National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse


NAASCA Highlights

EDITOR'S NOTE: Occasionally we bring you articles from local newspapers, web sites and other sources that constitute but a small percentage of the information available to those who are interested in the issues of child abuse and recovery from it.

We present articles such as this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
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Here are a few recent stories related to the kinds of issues we cover on the web site. They'll represent a small percentage of the information available to us, the public, as we fight to provide meaningful recovery services and help for those who've suffered child abuse. We'll add to and update this page regularly.

We'll also present stories about the criminals and criminal acts that impact our communities all across the nation. The few we place on this page are the tip of the iceberg, and we ask you to check your local newspapers and law enforcement sites. Stay aware. Every extra set of "eyes and ears" makes a big difference.
February 2012 - Recent News - News from other times

February - Week 4
MJ Goyings
Many, many thanks to our very own "MJ" for
providing us the majority of the daily research
that appears on the LACP and NAASCA web sites.
Ms. Goyings is a Registered Nurse and lives in Ohio.


DCF Gets $3 Million to Help Sexually, Emotionally Abused Children

Lawmakers weigh in on issues around the state and in Fairfield County.

by Cathryn J. Prince


At least six out of 10 children who have been sexually abused suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome, according to the state Department of Children and Families. As such the DCF will use a $3.2 million federal grant to improve the way the agency, community-based clinics and social workers statewide handle children affected by trauma in all its forms.

DCF Commissioner Joette Katz introduced a five-year program to an audience of human-service providers Friday in the Old Judiciary room at the Capitol.

Child-protective agencies and treatment centers across the county deal every day with children who have witnessed violence, lost a parent to death or prison, been physically or emotionally abused, been abandoned, or have been removed from their home. Yet Katz said the agencies have been slow in developing programs that specifically address this kind of pain.

While DCF goes after, there is a prevention program through out the state Nurturing Families Network. The free and voluntary program provides in-home and telephone parenting education and support for first time parents, at risk families to prevent abuse and neglect.

A recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics suggests infants experience the highest rates of child abuse. In most cases, the abuse is linked to families in poverty situations due to financial stress and a lack of parental education.

“We have more families now than ever before,” said Helma Gregorich, manger for Nurturing Families at the nonprofit Family Centers in Stamford.

Family Centers works with Stamford Hospital and Greenwich Hospital to identify at-risk, first-time families. It's a confidential program and it also gathers information and data to determine its effectiveness.

“There is improvement in parental well being, they feel more connected and more competent,” Gregorich said. “Eighty percent of the mothers who participate said they are thankful to have learned positive discipline. That means no spanking, no shaking no lashing out. That's a lot of parents.”


The Select Committee on Veterans' Affairs is considering SB 115 “An Act Concerning the Military Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program.” The proposal, a hold over from last session, would provide confidentiality for disclosures made by military personnel who are victims of sexual assault to military sexual assault advocates.

It's timely given the recent comments by Fox News contributor Liz Trotta regarding the Pentagon's report that said there has been a 64 percent increase of violent sexual assaults committed by army personnel in the past six years.

“I think they have actually discovered there is a difference between men and women. And the sexual abuse report says that there has been, since 2006, a 64 percent increase in violent sexual assaults. Now, what did they expect? These people are in close contact, the whole airing of this issue has never been done by Congress, it's strictly been a question of pressure from the feminists,” Trotta said.

It's that kind of thinking that makes SB 115 relevant, said State Sen. Carlo Leone, a Democrat representing Stamford and Darien in the 27 th Senate District and co-chair of the Veterans Committee.

“Usually the Federal government doesn't act, or it's too lengthy a process. The state can act first and that can spur the nation to action,” Leone said.


Child welfare in Arizona: Questions over deaths, system

by Mary K. Reinhart

During his short life, Jacob Gibson was no stranger to Arizona's Child Protective Services.

The 6-year-old Phoenix boy spent his first two years in foster care. After he returned to his parents, CPS opened five abuse investigations that involved him, two still open when he died from brain injuries. Police arrested both parents.

Jacob's beating death in August triggered media and public attention. And news articles highlighted a child-welfare system in crisis, exposing:

A record number of children in foster care, and a shortage of families willing to care for them.

CPS caseloads double the state's standards, as well as backlogs and rampant caseworker turnover.

Funding cuts for programs that support families and prevent child abuse and neglect.

Today, The Republic begins a yearlong examination of the state of child welfare in Arizona, starting with how years of budget cuts to family-support programs have hampered efforts to keep children and families out of the system.

In the coming months, the newspaper and its partners, and 12 News, will explore the CPS workforce, investigations, foster care and the judicial system.

We'll analyze successful prevention and intervention programs, here and in other states, that assist families and children in crisis. We'll consider the failures of past CPS reforms and how to sustain new efforts.

We will examine not just the workings of the state's bureaucrats and bureaucracy, but the role of the community in helping children to remain safe and their families stable.

In the end, there is no perfect system. But Jacob's brutal death raises the question: How could this tragedy have been prevented?

Child-welfare workers and police had been a consistent presence in Jacob's life. Neighbors and others had called CPS numerous times, reporting bruises on his legs, black eyes and an alleged "choking" incident at school. When Jacob arrived at Phoenix Children's Hospital on Aug. 8, he was convulsing and covered in bruises. Authorities say one of his parents slammed Jacob's head into a wall. Benny Gibson and Jennifer Paul are awaiting trial on child-abuse charges.

The boy's death came weeks after a 10-year-old girl suffocated after she was stuffed inside a small footlocker. Ame Deal, who lived in a trash-strewn home with adult relatives and at least 12 children, was being punished for taking a frozen treat, police said. Ame's family was not known to CPS.

And in May, 4-year-old Annie Carimbocas was pronounced dead of blunt-force trauma at Cardon Children's Hospital in Mesa. CPS had dismissed an earlier report on the child, hospitalized with bruised eyes and a bashed ear, as an accident.

The public was outraged by the child deaths. Some blamed CPS and police, while others wondered why Ame's neighbors didn't call authorities if they suspected abuse or neglect.

Soon after the media put a spotlight on the cases, CPS revealed that nearly 10,000 cases were sitting idle because workers were too overwhelmed to either investigate or finish the paperwork and close the case.

The high-profile deaths prompted a debate about how to prevent children from being injured or killed. It's a recurring argument, following publicity every few years surrounding a spate of child deaths.

At its core are competing philosophies about the role of government and the rights of parents and children. On one side is the belief that government's role should be limited, in terms of the help it provides to struggling families and the power it gives CPS to separate families. The other side argues for more funding for services to help keep families together, as well as additional support for CPS to help children who must be removed for their safety.

Gov. Jan Brewer created a task force on child safety in November. CPS administrators launched improvement efforts, including quicker investigations and shorter abuse-hotline queues. But reform efforts aren't new. As time passes, the media turns its attention to other matters. Laws and funding approved by one administration are ignored or overturned by new policy makers.

There are no easy fixes. Child abuse and neglect is a complex problem, usually rooted in poverty, drug abuse, mental illness and generations of family dysfunction.

"There aren't enough public funds or public programs to solve the problem. That's an effort doomed to failure," said Deborah Daro of the University of Chicago's Chapin Hall research center for children. "It's not just a public program. You want to ask every one of us, 'What are we doing to improve the lives of children every day?' "



Senate expands list of abuse reporting

Gov. John Kitzhaber will receive legislation that requires university employees, coaches and other staff, and employees of youth organizations to report child sexual abuse to police or the state Department of Human Services.

The Senate approved House Bill 4016 without change on a unanimous vote Friday.

The House dropped volunteers of youth organizations from the bill's expanded requirements.

Oregon's mandatory reporting law already covers a long list of professions.

As is the case in other states, Oregon's bill was prompted by the scandal stemming from child sexual-abuse accusations against Jerry Sandusky, a retired assistant football coach at Pennsylvania State University, and charges against two school officials for failing to properly report allegations of abuse.



'Many questions' in death of girl, 11, after fight with another girl

Police in Long Beach said Saturday night that they still don't know what killed an 11-year-old girl who died hours after a fight in an alley with another girl her age.

Deputy Chief Robert Luna said the cause of Joanna Ramos' death remains “undetermined” but offered more details on the physical altercation between the two children, which took place Friday after classes let out at Willard Elementary.

The fight was planned in advance, lasted less than a minute and did not involve any weapons, Luna said. “We believe nobody was knocked to the ground,” he added.

Police said seven onlookers watched the fight. Neither their names nor the name of the other girl involved in the fight was released Saturday.

Once the altercation was over, Joanna returned to her afterschool program and indicated she wasn't feeling well, police said. Her relatives took her home and later transported her to a hospital, where she was placed in the Intensive Care Unit in critical condition.

Officers were informed about 5:50 p.m. Friday that Joanna was not breathing. Although hospital personnel tried to revive her, she was pronounced dead shortly before 9 p.m., authorities said.

So far, no one has alleged or provided any information to indicate that Joanna was being bullied, Luna said.

“There are still many questions, many questions that cannot be answered,” he said.

The Los Angeles County coroner's office will determine the cause of the girl's death. No arrests have been made. Anyone with information for investigators is asked to call (562) 570-7244.


Catholic Church official 'hung out to dry,' defense says

Msgr. William Lynn, facing trial in a child abuse scandal in Philadelphia, made a list of problem priests that was destroyed by the archbishop, a defense memo says.

PHILADELPHIA — A Roman Catholic Church official facing trial in a child-abuse scandal created a list of problem priests in 1994, but the archbishop of Philadelphia had it destroyed, according to a defense memo.

Msgr. William Lynn, who is accused of keeping predator priests in ministry and transferring them from parish to parish, wants his child endangerment case dismissed because of new evidence turned over by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, including his list of 35 accused priests.

Lynn took it upon himself to review secret church files after becoming secretary for clergy in 1992, and he later gave a list of accused, still-active priests to his superior, Msgr. James E. Molloy.

Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua had Molloy shred four copies of the list, according to a memo signed by Molloy and a witness. But Molloy kept a copy in a locked safe at the archdiocese, where it was found in 2006, after Lynn had moved on, according to his motion.

"It is clear from the Molloy memo, and [its] belated production, that Msgr. Lynn has been 'hung out to dry,'" the defense motion says.

Lynn, who is charged with conspiracy and child endangerment, maintains his innocence. He has long argued that he took orders from Bevilacqua and is being made a scapegoat for the church's sexual abuse scandal.

Prosecutors themselves blasted Bevilacqua in two grand jury reports but never charged him with a crime. They have called the archdiocese and others "unindicted co-conspirators."

Bevilacqua appeared before the first grand jury 10 times in 2003 and 2004 and denied any attempt to obstruct the investigation, according to Lynn's motion. He died last month at age 88.

Lynn is the first U.S. church official charged for his administrative action. Jury selection is underway, with testimony scheduled to start March 26. A priest and an ex-priest charged with rape are on trial with him, and they also maintain their innocence.,0,7252869,print.story



Signs of child abuse: What to look for and what to do

by Kurt Manwaring

SALT LAKE CITY -- Child abuse is a serious problem across the globe and in Utah. Four to five children die on a daily basis in this country because of abuse, and in Utah, at least one incident of child abuse is confirmed every day.

Adding to the prevalence of child abuse is a lack of information about how to recognize and report it.

Recognizing abuse

Typically, child abuse is broken down into four general categories — although abused children usually manifest symptoms that overlap from one category to another. The four categories of abuse are: (1) physical abuse, (2) neglect, (3) sexual abuse and (4) emotional maltreatment.

Each of these forms of abuse leaves a trail of signs that can be recognized in both the abuser and the child. While these bread crumbs of abuse are not always indicative that abuse is taking place, they are nonetheless signs that should be viewed with appropriate alertness by those who witness potential incidents of child abuse.

Physical abuse

Some of the most common signs of physical abuse include:

  • Children with “unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones or black eyes.”

  • Children who appear scared by parents and “(protest or cry) when it is time to go home from school.”

  • Parents or other adults who are unable to explain how their children in their care were injured or who offer conflicting or unconvincing explanations about the injuries.
  • Parents or other adults who describe the children in their care “as ‘evil' or in some other very negative way.”

Some of the most common signs of neglect include:

  • Children who are constantly dirty and children who aren't appropriately dressed for the weather.

  • Children who state “there is no one at home to provide care.”

  • Parents or other adults who seem “indifferent to (the children in their care) … apathetic or depressed.”

  • Parents or other adult caregivers with substance abuse problems (including alcoholism).
Sexual abuse

Some of the most common signs of sexual abuse include:

  • Children who have “difficulty walking or sitting.”

  • Children who “demonstrate bizarre, sophisticated or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior.”

  • Parents or other adult caregivers who are “secretive or isolated.”

  • Parents or other adult caregivers who “describe marital difficulties involving family power struggles or sexual relations.”

Emotional maltreatment

Some of the most common signs of emotional maltreatment include:

  • Children who demonstrate “extremes in behavior, such as (being) overly compliant or demanding.”

  • Children who appear to be “inappropriately adult … (or) infantile.”

  • Parents or other adults who demonstrate a lack of concern for the children in their care and who refuse “to consider offers of help for the (children's) school problems.”

  • Parents or other adults who “overtly reject the (children in their care).”
Common questions about reporting child abuse

Responsible adults or other observers are often the only glimmer of hope for children who are unable to defend themselves or ask for help. An awareness of the common signs of child abuse, both as manifest by children and their parents or caregivers, is a critical first step in protecting children. However, if there is suspicion that abuse is taking place, it is also important to come forward and help put an end to the tragedy.

Common questions about reporting child abuse include:

What if I think child abuse is taking place but it turns out I'm wrong?

Reporting child abuse is one example of a situation where it is better to be safe than sorry.

Reporting child abuse is one example of a situation where it is better to be safe than sorry.

Abused children are very often unable to ask for help. Utah law is designed to protect the well-being of these children and accordingly requires “any person who has reason to believe a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect to immediately notify the nearest Utah Division of Child and Family Services or law enforcement agency.”

Not reporting abuse is replete with severe consequences for the children you suspect of being abuse and is also against the law. When it comes to child abuse, it is far better for everyone involved to be safe than sorry.

Will it make things worse if I report abuse?

The consequences of reporting suspicion of abuse and being wrong may cause temporary discomfort for some families, but the consequences of suspecting abuse and failing to report it puts children at risk for continued abuse — and even death. If you suspect abuse is taking place, the proper and lawful thing to do is make the initial report and then let the authorities investigate.

Can I choose to remain anonymous?

Yes. While it is preferable to provide your name and contact information so authorities can follow up with you if necessary, you can make your report anonymously. What information should I have when making a report?

When making a report, it is helpful to have as much information as possible. In particular, take notes on the “who,” “what,” “when” and “where” of the abuse.

What happens after I make a report?

Once you have made a report, the authorities will prioritize the case based upon “the immediate risk/danger to the child.” Depending on the severity of the case, contact will be made within 60 minutes, 24 hours or three working days. Some cases are not investigated, but the decision of whether to investigate is not made until a report has been called in.

For those cases that are investigated, authorities have a number of options at their disposal and will do all in their power to ensure the safety of the child or children in question.

How to report child abuse or get involved

If you think you know of a situation where child abuse is occurring, you can report the problem by calling the Utah child abuse hotline at 1-855-323-3237.

If you believe someone is in immediate danger, call 911 immediately.

Additional resources

Kurt Manwaring is pursuing a graduate degree in public administration at the University of Utah. He is the managing member of Manwaring Consulting, LLC and a former court appointed special advocate for abused and neglected children.




The tragedy of doing nothing: Ken Dryden on how sexual predators corrupt hockey

by Ken Dryden

This week in a Winnipeg courtroom, former National Hockey League star Theo Fleury told the stomach-twisting story of the abuse he suffered at the hands of his junior hockey coach, the now-infamous Graham James. For many, his victim-impact statement made what was once inconceivable conceivable.

My introduction to child abuse and hockey came almost 15 years ago when I became president of the Toronto Maple Leafs in June, 1997. Four months earlier, Martin Kruze had announced publicly that, as a child, he had been sexually abused by employees of Maple Leaf Gardens. Other victims came forward to tell similar life-shattering stories.

The matter quickly went into the hands of lawyers on both sides, but it also just hung in the air. There was more to say and do, I knew – but what?

In August, I got a letter from Mr. Kruze. He said he wanted to do something for child-abuse survivors, and not just for those from the Gardens, and was asking for our help. I put the letter into a small “get to” pile on my desk. Then the Leafs' training camp opened, then the season began – and then I got a call.

It was from a policeman. Martin Kruze had jumped off a bridge and died.

Why do we get it so wrong?

When I heard what had happened, I had no idea what to say or do.

I knew only that I needed to go to the funeral and called the family to ask permission. I walked the few blocks from Maple Leaf Gardens to the church. The Kruzes and their friends had to hate the Leafs, and hate me. But in every word spoken at that service and on every face was a deeper message: Please God, the Leafs, somebody – help make something at least a little bit good out of something so bad. Martin lived for a reason.

It is what any family would feel. But it was only after the funeral that we began to do things we should have done earlier.

We get things so wrong to protect reputations, of course – our own and those we care about: companies, organizations, teams, schools, churches, other people. It's to save ourselves from the horrendous implications we can imagine – legal liability, damages, loss of jobs, public humiliation – and ones far worse we can't. It's to save ourselves from life that, in the fullest sense, would truly change. We get things wrong because we want desperately that what may be true not be true.

We also get things wrong because ultimately, we say, the matter comes down to one person's word against that of another, and who's to know for sure? Except most of us think we do know. One person, an adult, has done something in his life – has an education, a job, a family. The other, whose life most often is a mess, has done little. Who do you believe?

And mostly we get things wrong, I think, because we don't believe such abuse can be true. The accused is a man who works with a team, an organization, a church, a school precisely because he likes kids. He wants to help kids, not hurt them. Besides, men don't do this to boys, and certainly not jocks who spit and swear, brag about girls, and coach teams. It can't be. Whatever you think you saw, you didn't see. There's something you missed; some other explanation.

We often miss what we “know” cannot be. In his recent book, In the Garden of Beasts , author Erik Larson describes what happened when William Dodd took up his post as U.S. ambassador to Germany in 1933 just after Adolf Hitler had come to power. It takes Mr. Dodd a few months but eventually his reports to Washington suggest the impending dangers of Hitler's regime. Almost no one in the State Department believes him: This is Germany, one of the most civilized places on Earth – Germans could never have allowed the man Mr. Dodd describes to lead their country. So his superiors ask, who's right? Mr. Dodd or all the State Department experts? Mr. Dodd or the German people?

Similarly, a month before the 9/11 terror attacks, U.S. security agencies intercepted “chatter” that something big was about to happen. But they did nothing. Reading newspaper accounts about this years later, I realized I wouldn't have done anything, either. For me, no words would have allowed my mind to conceive of two planes being flown into the World Trade Center. Just as with Hitler and Germany, to me it couldn't have happened, so it wouldn't happen.

Sometimes the more impossible something seems, the more possible it is. That's what child abusers count on.

The consequences of doing nothing can be tragic, as I learned after Martin Kruze's death. It had never made sense to me before that those who allege abuse often wait a decade or more to reveal what has happened to them. This fact only adds to a skeptical counter-narrative that many hold about them – they wait until their alleged abusers are dead and can't defend themselves, they think. They have messed up their own lives with drugs and alcohol; this is their last chance at a big “score.” They go after teams, schools, churches and kids organizations, which depend on public trust and have much to lose.

The truth is different. Imagine instead this story from inside the skin of a victim who is just 10 or 12 when it begins and has no idea what has just happened. Adults are supposed to do good things for kids. Adults are supposed to know what's best. What did I do to bring this on? What do I do now? What do I say? Who would understand? Who would believe me? Do I have a right not to feel the shame I feel?

What happened then stays a secret because, for them, it has to stay a secret. They turn into themselves, desperate to make sense of what has happened, so the feeling will go away, or become less important. It doesn't. Years pass. They stay focused inside themselves while their friends get on with life. The abused kids fall behind in school, lose friends. Some getting into drugs and alcohol. Many drop out. When they finally do speak out, they have lost so much time and so much learning that most never catch up. All this on top of whatever psychological damage they have suffered. Often their lives have been wrecked.

Theo Fleury and his fellow victims of Graham James, Todd Holt and Sheldon Kennedy, have done us a big service by telling their awful stories. They have also done themselves some good, finally getting out what has eaten up their lives for decades. But for them, the road ahead doesn't get easier. They have gone from being an innocent kid, to hockey star and finally, because of Graham James, apparent screw-up.

Now, by speaking out, they have become important again. But the spotlight will shift away quickly. What's next? Surviving abuse is an immense accomplishment, but it's not the identity victims need to see themselves through the rest of their lives. Because of Graham James, the challenge for Theo Fleury and the others is always ahead.

A final story. We had met before. Then, some weeks later, we saw each other again at a Leafs press conference, nodded and smiled. This was a year or two after Martin Kruze's death.

When the event ended, he came over. “I used to love you,” he said. “Then I hated you.”

He was about 40, tall, with thinning hair and a mustache.

“I dreamed I was you,” he told me. “I loved hockey. I was tall. I was a goalie in every game I played. My parents bought me some brand-new equipment. I was you,” he repeated. His 10-year-old self came back in his voice and eyes.

“I used to hang around outside the Gardens. I just wanted to see the players, any of them, live. An older guy who worked there somehow knew I really liked you – maybe I told him. He said he knew you. He said he could introduce me – when you were in town.”

His voice and eyes began to change. “That's how it began. Then I hated you,” he said, his hatred worn by time now gone from his voice.

“One morning, I went downstairs, picked up that new equipment and threw it into a garbage pail. I told my parents it'd been stolen. I never played again.”

I was the bait.

Ken Dryden, a former MP and an author, is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. He played goal for the Montreal Canadiens from 1971 to 1979, and for Canada in the 1972 Summit Series.



Stopping child abuse

BECAUSE A DRUGSTORE film processor alerted police to photos of blindfolded and gagged children, a Los Angeles teacher has been stopped from allegedly sexually exploiting students. The teacher was arrested last month after police say they found DNA evidence linking him to the abuse of 23 students.

This shocking episode, along with the Penn State University case, in which school officials are accused of covering up allegations that a former assistant coach raped a boy, again raise questions about how to prevent and deal with such crimes.

Teachers, physicians, day-care employees and other adults who are in close contact with children are typically and correctly required to report incidences of suspected abuse. Some states levy criminal sanctions against those who fail to carry out this duty. Eighteen, including Maryland, require all adults to report “known or suspected” abuse.

Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) has introduced a bill that would withhold federal funds from states unless they enact laws requiring all adults to report. Some advocates worry that such an approach could be counterproductive, overwhelming government agencies with false or flimsy allegations that could take resources away from cases of abuse. Educating adults about the law and about signs of abuse is key to holding perpetrators accountable and getting children the care that they need.

Providing a clear path for reporting is also essential. One smart possibility: Create a nationwide emergency number, similar to the 911 system, that would direct calls to local authorities. States could designate the entity – such as a child services agency or law enforcement – that would receive the calls.

The approach used by the National Children's Alliance (NCA) should be considered a model. The NCA certifies and audits “children's advocacy centers,” which bring together social workers, law enforcement officers, health professionals and a variety of other specialists once an abuse complaint has been filed. A professional trained in questioning children gathers information as law enforcement officers look on, reducing the need for repeated, and often traumatic, interrogations. These centers also serve as first responders for the child, providing health care and counseling, as well as follow-up services. Although NCA claims some 750 centers nationwide, including several in Virginia and Maryland and one in the District, the organization reports that 1,000 counties (about one-third of all those in the country) have no access to them.

States also should consider hiring a child protective services ombudsman to monitor, report and address systemic failures. Only half currently do.

These initiatives are not free, which is why Congress should allow more of the approximately $700 million available in the Crime Victims Fund to be used to advance them. The fund is replenished through court fees and fines.



NWACC kicks off child abuse center campaign

BENTONVILLE — The dream of building a state-of-the-art center to train professionals to recognize and stop child abuse is a step closer to reality, said Victor Vieth, executive director of the National Child Protection Training Center, a nonprofit organization working to end child abuse.

“Far better than a dream is a dream fulfilled,” Vieth said Friday morning (Feb. 24). “To actually be here and to see several hundred thousand dollars come forth — great things are going to happen.”

The Northwest Arkansas Community College held a campaign announcement for the center Friday. The college hopes to raise $3.25 million in the next seven months for a training center that educates people dealing with child abuse, including prosecutors, teachers, police, forensic interviewers and caseworkers, according to a news release.

So far, the college has raised about $614,000, including $575,000 in donations that were presented Friday morning during the campaign announcement, said Amy Benincosa, the national training center development coordinator.

At least 50 state officials, community leaders and child advocates gathered at the Shewmaker Center for Workforce Technologies where Walmart Foundation Senior Manager Karen Parker presented an oversized check for $500,000 to the college. The donation was the “lead gift,” according to a news release.

“We so value the people who train those who advocate for children,” Parker said.

Other donors Friday included The Nabholz Family Charitable Foundation, $50,000, and from Vicki and Mel Redman, $25,000.

The money will go to renovate the former Highlands Oncology Clinic building, which the college's foundation owns, and turn it into the Southern Regional Center of the national training center, Benincosa said.

The local center, which will cover a 16-state region, is meant to play a role in ending child abuse, Vieth said.

“When you think of the facility, I want you to think less about the building and more about what the building represents — it represents hope,” Vieth said. “The center represents hope that now abused children can receive justice.”

Already, architects are working on a facility plan, Benincosa said. If everything goes smoothly, including the fundraising, the center could open in 2014, Benincosa said.

Vieth said the Arkansas center is part of a national push to address and prevent child abuse. He said many professionals go into their fields without knowing how to handle child abuse cases. As a young prosecutor, Vieth said he made mistakes that ended up hurting children. That needs to stop, he said.

In Arkansas, the number of child maltreatment cases found to be true statewide rose from 7,831 in fiscal 2010 to 8,573 in fiscal 2011, according to a Arkansas Department of Human Services report released this past October. In the top four counties of Northwest Arkansas — Benton, Carroll, Madison and Washington counties — the state found 1,147 true cases of maltreatment last fiscal year.

Child abuse in Arkansas has caught the attention of several state representatives who plan to pool General Improvement Funds to help furnish and equip the regional center, according to a news release.

Most people aren't aware of the difficulties abused children face, said Rep. Tim Summers, R-Bentonville, who is a leader in the effort fund the center.

“These are not ‘Leave it to Beaver' situations,” he said. “It's sad, and it's tragic.”

Training is essential for stopping the abuse, Summers said.

The 16,534-square-foot center will be equipped with a mock courtroom, staged residence areas, interactive video and classrooms and training space, according to documents provided by the college.

Since the community college began offering courses about two years ago, about 250 people have trained at the Bentonville college, but that does not include students in the Child Advocacy Studies, said Stephanie Smith, regional director of the national training center. More people have gone through onsite training or attended online lectures, she said.

Once the center is open, Smith expects to train about 600 people a year, she said.

Fayetteville Detective David Williams, who attended a national training center course in 2007, said communities, lawmakers and agencies across the region are ready to act together to fight child maltreatment. That makes the center timely and vital for educating people to spot and prevent child abuse, he said.

“People are standing shoulder to shoulder ready to advance,” Williams said. “It's not just about a well-furnished classroom, it's about the commitment…to end child abuse forever.”



Vargas Introduces Bill to Encourage Sport Coaches Report Child Abuse

Policy would make coaches and others who deal with children criminally liable if they fail to alert authorities about cases of suspected sexual abuse.

A state legislator who represents Imperial Beach has introduced a bill to toughen mandated child sexual abuse reporting standards for athletic coaches at colleges and universities – whether public or private.

The bill by Sen. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, would add head coaches, assistant coaches and graduate assistants to the list of jobs in which employees are required to report instances of sexual abuse of children they witness.

Vargas, who announced in November his intention to author such a bill in response to the sex abuse scandal at Penn State University, said “to think that any coach would sacrifice the innocence of a child and turn a blind eye to their suffering and trauma for the sake of their team” was sickening.

“Students look up to their coaches and see them as mentors, parents put their trust in them,” Vargas said. “Our children's well-being and safety far outweigh any athletic program.”

He said that his bill, if passed, would incarcerate coaches “if they choose to look the other way.”

The penalties for failure to report would increase the maximum county jail term from six months to one year and up the fine from $1,000 to $5,000.

Also, the bill would make a felony out of willful failure to report abuse, or inhibiting attempts to report, punishable by up to five years in state prison and a $25,000 fine.

Former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky is accused of molesting at least 10 boys connected to his charity and is awaiting trial. Two university administrators also face charges in connection with a failure to report the alleged abuse to law enforcement.

The scandal that broke last fall cost head football coach Joe Paterno his job. He died last month of lung cancer at the age of 85.

Until the scandal, both Paterno and the Penn State athletic program were widely regarded as models of virtue in college sports.

Last September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law authored by Vargas to combat elder and dependent adult abuse.

Vargas is running in November elections to represent California's 51st Congressional district, which will include Imperial Beach following changes made by the California Citizens Redistricting Committee.



D.A. delayed action on substitute teacher who fled to Mexico

For nearly a year, officials did not push for return of fugitive suspected of crimes against children.

by Alan Zarembo and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times

February 25, 2012

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office chose not to seek the extradition of a substitute teacher wanted for sex crimes, even after prosecutors learned of his whereabouts in Mexico, court records show.

The records contradict statements made this week by a deputy district attorney, who said the teacher would be extradited as soon as authorities could locate him.

The teacher, George Hernandez, was arrested by Huntington Park police in September 2010 for allegedly exposing himself to a girl outside a middle school. Detectives who searched his Inglewood apartment discovered a videotape they say shows Hernandez molesting a second-grader in a classroom. He was released on bail and fled the country.

An investigator working for a bail bonds company found Hernandez early last year, and Jalisco, Mexico, state police briefly detained him on Jan. 19, 2011. In a letter faxed nine days later, the company informed the district attorney that it was continuing to track Hernandez and could help apprehend him.

But on March 15, Deputy Dist. Atty. Ann Huntsman responded saying prosecutors did not want to bring him back to Los Angeles.

"We have evaluated the case and have determined that we will not seek the defendant's international extradition from Mexico on this case at this time," Huntsman wrote. "The case will remain open and the defendant is still subject to prosecution in this case."

The revelation comes in a case that has focused attention on how schools can fail to weed out dangerous teachers. Before his arrest, Hernandez had been investigated three times at three L.A. Unified School District elementary schools for alleged sexual misconduct. He was never charged and apparently never reported to the state commission on teacher credentialing.

Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the district attorney, said the decision came after consultation with U.S. Justice Department officials, who said success was far from guaranteed.

Prosecutors also considered the fact that Hernandez, now 45, had no criminal record and that the charges they had filed against him — possession of child pornography and indecent exposure — fell short of child molestation, Gibbons said.

Huntington Park police, who investigated the case, said they showed prosecutors several videos they found in Hernandez's apartment. Some had been downloaded from the Internet. Others appeared to be homemade, including a 14-minute video in which Hernandez appears alone with a girl detectives said they eventually identified as a 7-year-old student.

Detectives determined that the video was made in 2008 in a classroom at Beulah Payne Elementary, in the Inglewood Unified School District, while Hernandez was filling in for a teacher on leave. According to their investigative report, he repeatedly reached under the girl's clothes and placed her across his lap, as she tried to resist.

Gibbons said prosecutors determined the strongest charge the evidence could support was felony possession of child pornography. The charge was based only on a video taken from the Internet, she said. Prosecutors were never shown the evidence related to the video of the child in the classroom, Gibbons said.

"We presented what we had and they didn't feel that was enough for more serious charges," Huntington Park Lt. Anthony Porter said Friday.

Inglewood schools hired Hernandez in 2007 after he had left L.A. Unified under a cloud of suspicion. His 2010 arrest — and his flight soon after — received little public attention at the time. But if Hernandez remained a fugitive, Aladdin Bail Bonds stood to lose his $30,000 bail.

The company hired a Mexican investigator, Antonio Oswaldo Ramirez Perez; and in January 2011, he went to San Miguel el Alto, where Hernandez had spent his early childhood before moving to the United States. It wasn't hard to find him.

"It's a very small town," Ramirez said by phone this week. "He was well known."

Hernandez drove a red Ford pickup with Jalisco license plates. He was living in the center of town in a small house that Ramirez thought belonged to Hernandez's relatives and he didn't have a job.

With help from the Jalisco state police, Ramirez photographed Hernandez holding a Mexican newspaper, collected his fingerprints and copied down his driver's license number.

The information was included in the bail company's Jan. 28, 2011, letter to the L.A. County district attorney. "Aladdin's investigators remain aware of the defendant's whereabouts and can assist in the apprehension of the defendant if Los Angeles County law enforcement authorities wish to commence extradition efforts of the defendant in this case," it said.

It was filed in court, along with the response from the district attorney.

Under California law, a bail company can keep its money if it locates a fugitive abroad and provides the information to prosecutors. On April 5, a judge ruled that Aladdin was off the hook.

After The Times published an article about Hernandez's case this week, L.A. County Deputy Dist. Atty. Diana Martinez said he would be extradited as soon as his exact location could be determined.

There has been no such effort "because that requires we know where he is," she said in an interview Wednesday.

Gibbons said Martinez was not aware Hernandez had been located or of the discussions about his possible extradition. The case remains open, she added.

Meanwhile, Hernandez's family has been begging him to return, according to a relative, who said, "All of his actions have shown what a coward he is, and I doubt he will come back.",0,4798057,print.story


Jerry Sandusky: Feds subpoena Penn State for top officials' info

Federal authorities are seeking information about Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach facing state charges of sexually abusing children, as well as others involved in the scandal that has shaken the college sports powerhouse.

Penn State on Friday acknowledged receiving a federal subpoena from the U.S. attorney's office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania seeking information on Sandusky and others. The school is complying with the request, said Lisa Powers, director of the department of public information, in an email.

According to Powers, the federal request also seeks information about former university President Graham Spanier, who was forced out during the scandal, plus athletic director Tim Curley and retired vice president Gary Schultz, who face state charges that they lied to a grand jury investigating Sandusky.

Also sought were “any records of any payments by board members to the university or to third parties on the university's behalf. The subpoena also seeks reporting requirements of employers and staff relating to allegations of misconduct by staff or individuals associated with the university,” Powers wrote. Federal authorities also asked for information about Second Mile, the charity Sandusky founded.

Spanier has not been charged with any crime but lost his job, as did football coach Joe Paterno, who died Jan. 22. The school's board of trustees questioned whether the top officials had done enough to investigate Sandusky.

The subpoena was dated Feb. 2 but remained secret until Harrisburg's the Patriot-News reported on it Thursday night.

“Because this is an ongoing investigation, I can't provide details about the request,” Powers wrote.

Heidi Havens, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office also refused in a telephone interview to discuss the contents of the subpoena.

Sandusky faces state charges that he sexually abused boys over a 15-year period. Some of the children came from the charity, Second Mile, that Sandusky founded. Sandusky would bring the children on field trips to Penn State even after he left the university's employ.

It was during one such trip that an assistant football coach claimed to see Sandusky with a young boy in the shower; the coach said he told his superiors that he saw improper activities. Sandusky in media interviews has acknowledged showering with the boy but has denied molesting him.

Authorities have said they are also looking at Sandusky's activities with an alleged victim in 1999 at the Alamo Bowl in Texas – Sandusky's last game as a Penn State coach. Those events could be part of what federal authorities are examining because it involves crossing state lines.

Sandusky's state trial is scheduled for mid-May.,0,7620528.story



Safe Harbor Provides Essential Counseling, Services and Support for Hundreds of Abused Children in Allegan County

ALLEGAN, Mich., Feb. 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Safe Harbor, a non-profit organization focused on preventing and treating child abuse and neglect in Allegan County, Mich., today released its 2011 service figures and report, detailing the support it provided the community during the past year.

In 2011, Safe Harbor was able to provide the following services to the children of Allegan County in a compassionate environment and free of charge:

  • 178 children who were victims of sexual or severe physical abuse were interviewed

  • 48 youth victims received counseling

  • 36 victims received medical exams

  • 41 children were served in Safe Harbor's CASA program

Safe Harbor's direct mission is to provide a lifeline to victims of child abuse and neglect in Allegan County. This is accomplished with a two-prong strategy: providing protection, follow-up medical care and counseling to victims of abuse and by promoting abuse prevention through education programs. Through its Stewards of Children program, Safe Harbor offers many free prevention education classes for all members of the community, teaching adults and children how to recognize and protect against child abuse.

Through the organization's Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) which is nationally accredited through the National Children's Alliance – Safe Harbor provides an array of services aimed at enhancing the community's response to child abuse. These services include on-site forensic interviews and exams for youth victims, counseling for victims of sexual abuse, severe physical abuse or domestic violence, on-site medical services, victim advocacy, and coordination with area health care providers, law enforcement and the Allegan County Child Abuse Investigation Team.

Additionally, another program at Safe Harbor is the Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program. A court-appointed special advocate is a trained citizen volunteer appointed by a family court judge to represent the best interests of an abused or neglected child before and during the court process. CASA volunteers offer a child trust and one-on-one advocacy during complex legal proceedings, and more importantly, during one of the most traumatic times in a child's life. Safe Harbor has operated its CASA program since 1998.

Safe Harbor's vision is to create a community where all children are safe from abuse and neglect, and where all citizens are educated about child abuse and dedicated to preventing it. And because Safe Harbor is a 501(c)3, it relies on community support to keep its programs running. In addition to financial support, there are many ways for community members to get involved in the coming months:

  • The Pinwheel Garden will take place at Safe Harbor on April 2 at 9 a.m. This is an annual event to increase awareness of children in Allegan County who are victims of abuse and neglect. Safe Harbor will be placing pinwheels for victims of abuse in its garden and will offer tours of Safe Harbor's facility.

  • The Fourth-Annual Lifeline Event will be held at the SILO Banquet Center on April 13 at 5:30 p.m. This event is Safe Harbor's main fundraising event of the year. The 2012 event goal is to raise $16,000. The event will also include a presentation by Michigan-native Chip St. Clair, the author of The Butterfly Garden , whose own story of horrific abuse gives hope to other survivors. Individuals and companies interested in sponsoring or attending the event can contact Safe Harbor for additional details.

"With the growing need for Safe Harbor's services, we face the strain of capacity and the depth of unmet need in our community," said Lori Antkoviak, executive director for Safe Harbor. "The children who have experienced tragedy can receive the support they need to move beyond the pain and begin the healing through our programs at Safe Harbor. No child victim of abuse should be without support or left to 'fall through the cracks'. As a result, we continue to need the community's support more than ever before."

Safe Harbor is a non-profit, 501c3 organization focused on providing a lifeline to victims of child abuse and neglect in Allegan County, Michigan. Find them online at or on Facebook. Safe Harbor also wants to remind members of the community that there are resources, including area law enforcement, which can help if they have been a victim of abuse or know of someone who has been neglected or abused.


Severe Childhood Sexual Abuse Is a Risk Factor for Incarceration in Women

Child sexual abuse (CSA) has been linked to a host of negative psychological outcomes in adults. Specifically, survivors are more likely to suffer anxiety, depression, substance misuse, decreased self-esteem, posttraumatic stress and behavior problems. Individuals who have experienced childhood maltreatment and neglect are more likely to find themselves in trouble with the law. Therefore, some experts theorize that CSA poses a risk factor for arrest or incarceration as well. Previous research has demonstrated that women who are incarcerated are more likely to have suffered CSA than those who are not. These same women also have higher rates of psychological problems than women with no criminal record. To determine what factors would best predict if a female survivor of CSA would be at risk for future incarceration, Kia Asberg of the Department of Psychology at Western Carolina University compared the severity of CSA and the coping strategies used in a sample of incarcerated women and women enrolled in college.

Asberg analyzed data gathered from 420 female college students and 169 incarcerated women and found that the rate of CSA was nearly double in the inmates. She also discovered that the women who were incarcerated had experienced more severe and more frequent CSA than the students and had much lower levels of psychological adjustment relating to the abuse. Surprisingly, the results revealed that imprisoned and student survivors had received equal amounts of support from people in their lives when they disclosed the abuse. However, the inmates had more initial adverse responses to their disclosure than the students. This suggests that the first reaction to disclosure, when negative, could eclipse the positive emotional support received after. The way in which the women coped was also different. The incarcerated survivors had much higher rates of substance use than the students. Taken together, these findings underscore the importance of working with CSA survivors to develop healthy coping strategies to prevent further psychological impairment. Asberg added, “Overall, these findings have implications for the development of interventions for CSA survivors, suggesting that those survivors with more severe experiences, co-occurring substance abuse, and a lack of social support will require more intensive programs.”



Protecting Our Children From Sexual Predators

Three recent, horrific cases of child sexual abuse, on the national and local levels, have shed light on a topic that seemingly no one wants to talk about. Therapists say one of the reasons these cases keep appearing in our headlines is because no one wants to talk about it... And that may be one thing that allows the abuse to continue. But prevention advocates say the cure for it is out there, and it's this: talk.

These are the faces of child sexual abuse... What you see is equivalent to what you would normally hear about it, which is nothing... That is, until cases the magnitude of the Penn State scandal make headlines.

Former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is accused of repeated incidents of child molestation.

Longtime Los Angeles elementary school teacher Mark Berndt allegedly fondled multiple victims in his classroom.

As news of those incidents was breaking, Neng Yang, who taught second grade at Freedom Elementary school in Clovis, was arrested and charged with molesting a student in his classroom.

Dr. Susan Napolitano, The Sullivan Center for Children: "These kinds of cases come from within your household, within your school district or within your church. They don't come from strangers, they don't come from scary people. They come from people you look up to."

Incidents like these are likely to make headlines again in the future. But child sexual abuse prevention advocates say if we don't start talking to our kids now, these incidents may hit even closer to home.

Dr. Bernadette Muscat, Fresno St. Associate Prof. of Criminology: "I think what's most important for victims is that they have the courage to speak up, that they realize it's not their fault. They didn't do anything wrong."

No, it's not something that's easy to talk about... It's abuse.

It's easy to talk about sex... Its easy to talk about our kids... But not when you put the three together.

Lisa DeBenedetto is on the board of directors at the new Family Healing Center" in Fresno, which helps abuse victims through their ordeals.

Lisa DeBenedetto, Family Therapist: "Giving them the information the need. You don't have to give them more than they need, but you need to give them enough to empower them and keep them safe and give them options if something happens that is uncomfortable."

US attorneys have prosecuted enough child sexual exploitation cases to put our San Joaquin Valley at 5th out of 97 federal districts in the country. Agent Mike Prado is with the Department of Homeland Security.

Mike Prado, Supervisory Special Agent: "I think now with the tools that we in law enforcement are able to deploy to find these people, we're a lot more successful in uncovering things that otherwise many have gone unreported."

Statistics show 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 18.
For boys, it's 1 in 6.
35% of those victims were abused by a family member, and over 50% were abused by someone the family trusted.

The Fresno Council on Child Abuse Prevention says some children may take months, even years, to fully reveal what was done to them, and sometimes, not at all.

Esther Franco, FCCAP Executive Director: "I know it's very horrific to talk about child sexual abuse and it's horrific for people who are in the field. The good news is child abuse is 100% preventable."

If your child does say something, psychologists say you should talk with him or her in an age appropriate way.

Books like this one, 'Don't Be Scared To Tell,' by Kathy Chatterton, are one way parents can talk to their kids about child sexual abuse.

Kathy Chatterton, Author: "They deserve a fighting shot, a fighting chance to speak up for themselves and get help when someone who's supposed to take care of them isn't."

Here are some other things to remember if sexual abuse is a conversation you need to have with your child.

Stay calm... Your own emotions can make it even harder on the child.

Believe your child... and praise him or her for being brave enough to talk about the abuse.

Protect your child... by getting away from the abuser and immediately reporting the incident to law enforcement.

Get help... Have your child see a doctor, as well as a mental health professional, who specializes in child sexual abuse.

Lastly, reassure your sons and daughters.

Let them know they are loved, accepted, and protected.

Dr. Muscat: "The very best thing they can do to help themselves at this point is to speak up. And if you're not heard the first time, speak up again."

If there's one thing that psychologists want to emphasize to parents with regard to child sexual abuse prevention, it's this: Have a good, solid relationship with your kids, and that can make it easier to talk.

These horrific incidents on the national, state, and local levels, have raised many questions about how to deal with child sexual abuse. Psychologists say it needs to be reported right away.

The National Child Abuse Hotline number is 800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453).



Spate of arrests shows rise in reporting, not in abuse, police say

In three weeks, six L.A. Unified employees have been booked on suspicion of sex-related crimes. The Miramonte episode has sparked some people to come forward and others to be more watchful, police say.

by Richard Winton, Howard Blume and Sam Allen, Los Angeles Times

February 24, 2012

Since authorities charged a Miramonte Elementary School teacher nearly a month ago with committing lewd acts in his classroom, the Los Angeles Unified School District has seen a flurry of arrests of school employees accused of inappropriate behavior with children.

Over the last three weeks, six employees have been booked on suspicion of sex-related crimes, while several others have been pulled from the classroom amid investigations.

The overwhelming media coverage after the arrest of Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt for allegedly spoon-feeding his semen to blindfolded children has intensified discussion among school officials, parents and children about abuse.

But whether more children are being abused or more abusers are being caught is difficult to say. Law enforcement officials stressed that they don't believe that more abuse is occurring. Rather, the Miramonte episode has sparked some people to come forward and others to be more watchful, they say.

"As a community, people are coming together and are hyper-vigilant about any other perpetrators. Everything is now being reported," said Pia Escudero, who directs L.A. Unified's mental health and crisis counseling services.

The district has seen an uptick in allegations of adult sexual misconduct in recent weeks. Counselors have been dispatched to several campuses — including 45 alone at Miramonte, one for every classroom.

Los Angeles Police Capt. Fabian E. Lizarraga, who oversees child sex crime investigations, said the department has seen an increase in allegations of "child annoyance" more than of more serious sexual misconduct.

"These reports say things like a teacher likes to rub my shoulders and sometimes their hands drift or he hugs me too long," he said.

But there have been more serious allegations as well. On Thursday, authorities announced the arrest of a Roosevelt High School Spanish teacher on suspicion of having sex with two teenage boys. Gabriela Cortez, 42, was booked on suspicion of unlawful sexual intercourse.

Montebello police alleged that she had lengthy sexual relationships with the boys between 2008 and 2010. One of the teenagers, now 18, reported the teacher last week to police in Montebello, where she lives, said Chief Kevin McClure. After learning of the allegation, school officials immediately removed her from the classroom.

Berndt has been charged with photographing blindfolded and gagged students who thought they were taking part in a "tasting game."

Within a week of his arrest, another Miramonte instructor, second-grade teacher Martin Springer, was charged with lewd acts involving a girl in his classroom.

Concerned about the effect of a widening investigation, Supt. John Deasy opted to replace the school's entire staff.

That same week, Paul Adame, a Germain Elementary School janitor, was arrested for alleged lewd acts involving a student at the Chatsworth campus. A little over a week later, an FBI sex crimes task force arrested Alain Salas, a coach and teacher's aide at Fremont High School in South Los Angeles. He has also been charged with lewd acts on a child.

Counselors had to be dispatched two weeks ago to Telfair Elementary School in Pacoima after it was revealed that teacher Paul Chapel had disappeared from the campus because of a molestation investigation. He was jailed in October.

In the past, district officials would never reveal what happened to a teacher who was dismissed or removed until they had to — they often cited the employee's privacy rights and a fear of litigation.

But now, some district officials, including school board member Nury Martinez, are insisting that parents and campus colleagues have a right to know what allegedly happened.

School officials confirmed Wednesday that an unidentified teacher had resigned at Crenshaw High School amid an LAPD investigation into inappropriate conduct with a minor.

An athletic assistant at Francis Polytechnic High School in Sunland, Jose Rosario Alvarez, 27, was arrested Wednesday by the LAPD on suspicion of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl at another school.

Thomas Lyon, a law professor at USC, said the string of arrests could be driven by a combination of greater concern among parents and increased willingness on the part of law enforcement officials to act on allegations of abuse.

"When people hear about cases, they ask their child if anything has ever happened at their school…. And a fair number of children are going to reveal things because they've never been asked before," he said. "Another thing is that police might be making arrests because they are more diligent."

But Lyon said it's also important to keep in mind that the volume of arrests is irrelevant in individual criminal proceedings — what matters in each case is the evidence itself. Such child abuse accusations, he added, can be difficult to prove in court.

"There will be the same proof problems.... Whether these cases will result in convictions is really unclear," he said. ""What's really the evidence in all these cases? That's what I'd want to know."

Lyon said the case against Miramonte's Springer, for example, appears to hinge on the testimony of a single accuser (a second student accused Springer but later recanted).

"It's going to be her word against his," Lyon said. "That's not a case L.A. prosecutors would usually take.",0,1697191,print.story


South Carolina

(Picture on site)

Child abuse suspect at large

Greenville police still are searching for a man who was discovered two weeks ago in a bathroom with a partially clothed 6-year-old girl.

Christopher Derrell Wooden, 29, is charged with one count each of indecent liberties with a child and assault on a female.

The incident was reported to authorities at 1 a.m. on Feb. 10. Police would not provide further details to protect the victim.

“We do know that he was known to the family of the victim,” Deputy Chief Joe Bartlett said on Thursday. “He had close relationships with several family members.”

Bartlett said police secured arrest warrants against Wooden on Feb. 16 but have been unable to locate him. Wooden is not known to have a current local address, but it is believed he is still in the area.

“We have no reason to believe that he has left the area,” Bartlett said. “We think he may be staying with friends somewhere in Greenville.”

Bartlett said that Wooden reportedly was seen in the Kearney Park housing area on Sunday, but already was gone when officers responded to the area. He is said to be driving a red four-door car of unknown make and model.

Wooden is a black male, about 6 feet 1 inch tall and 170 pounds. He has shoulder length braided hair, and tattoos on his arms. He is said to go by the nickname “Juicy Fruit.”

Bartlett said that Wooden has one prior conviction for domestic violence from 2007 in Pitt County.

Additional charges against Wooden are possible, he said. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Greenville Police Department at 329-4315. Pitt Greenville CrimeStoppers will pay a reward for information that leads to an arrest in this case. Contact CrimeStoppers at 758-7777.


'Child abuse is not right': Dancing With The Stars pros Derek Hough and Mark Ballas lay into Dance Moms

by Mike Larkin

It has raised eyebrows due to the extremes teacher Abby Lee Miller will go to in an attempt to turn her charges into dancers.

And now Dancing With The Stars pros Derek Hough and Mark Ballas have weighed in on the argument, labelling Dance Moms an embarrassment.

The pair are horrified at the drill sergeant-style method of teaching she uses at her Abby Lee Dance Company in Pittsburgh, where she teaches six to 13-year-olds.

Cheryl Cole's former squeeze was especially outspoken, accusing Miller of child abuse.

The ballroom dancer took to Twitter to say: 'I'm sorry, but this Dance Mom show is straight up abusive. Kids run!.

'It ain't right. Child abuse isn't right. I'm livid right now. I believe in discipline and a strong work ethic.

'But there is nothing productive about screaming and making little girls cry over being on the wrong foot.'

Miller thinks nothing of shouting and chastising youngsters as she attempts to mould them into perfect dancing machines.

She hits her students with a foam baseball bat whenever she notices one of them is out of step.

Mark was also incensed at what he saw after watching the show, which is in its second season and airs on Tuesdays on Lifetime.

He added: 'This teacher lady is crazy. Completely wrong attitude towards the kids, its embarrassing.

'Correct teaching is patience, discipline, confidence building and love. She needs a reality check.

'I watched for 15 mins and switched off, and only reason I would watch is concern for the kids, she needs to be fired.

'it's abuse. You can't argue with me or any of the dancers I work with's record. And we don't behave like that to children.'

The Mail tried to contact Miller at her studio, but she was not available for comment.

However she appeared on The View Monday to justify her aggressive approach.

She said: 'Some kids you have to yell at. Some kids you have to take a baseball bat – which is foam rubber, by the way – and straighten that knee.'

Despite the criticisms of Hough and Ballas, Miller has been an extremely successful dance teacher.

Since starting her school in 1980 a slew of her students have made their way into the world of professional dancing.

One of her students was in the original cast of the Broadway show Footloose, and is now dance supervisor for the casts of Wicked in London, Tokyo, Amsterdam and Belgium.

Another of her former charges has appeared in Broadways hits such as Spamalot, Lion King and The Book of Mormon.

Miller also said she remains in touch with many of her former students.

She said: 'I still take their butts to dinner! They don't send me any percentage of their earnings - I've wised up!

'I know that I am with them in spirit every single time they step on a stage or into a class.'


Child abuse fugitive returned to the US

A U.S. citizen convicted of child molestation has been turned over to U.S. authorities after being captured in Canada after a decade on the run.

Veronique Lalime, a spokeswoman for Canada Border Services Agency, said Thursday that Steven Dyer was transferred to the custody of U.S. officials on Wednesday. He was picked up by border service agents at Montreal's airport a day earlier.

Dyer is wanted in Arizona. After failing to show up for a court appearance in 2002, he was convicted of 13 counts of child molestation and faces a minimum sentence of 169 years in prison.


Theo Fleury's full victim impact statement

(Video on site)

by Theoren Fleury

At a young and very impressionable age, I was stalked, preyed upon and sexually assaulted over 150 times by an adult my family and I trusted completely.

I was a boy with a big dream and the talent to match. I played hockey in the early morning hours, after school, on the weekends and holidays, I even dreamed of hockey. Everyone in my life knew of my passion and my talent, including convicted pedophile Graham James.

Mr. James was a well-known minor hockey coach, and he zeroed in on my family and me. He skillfully manipulated us all, and eventually my parents entrusted my care and well being to him in order to allow me to move to other towns and cities to advance my hockey dream. He was a larger than life figure with the hockey credentials and education as a teacher, to match, and it was drilled into me that he held the keys to making my dream become a reality.

I was just a kid. A child. I was completely under Graham James's control. And I was scared. I did not have the emotional skills, the knowledge, or the ability to stop the rapes or change my circumstances. I felt lost, alone, and helpless. And those feelings did not stop after I was able to get away from Mr. James; I continued to feel that way for 20+ years afterwards. I descended into years of drug addiction, alcoholism, and addictions to sex, gambling, rage.

My loved ones, including my beloved children, spiraled down with me. The pain was all encompassing. And no matter how many NHL games I won, or money I made, or fame I gained could dull the pain of having been sexually abused by Graham James. His sickness changed my life, changed the lives of everyone who was close to me, and caused more pain than can be measured.

Finally, after a night in the New Mexico desert with a gun in my mouth and finger on the trigger, I found the courage to get help and start a long process of healing. I am now reconciled with my children and family, I have been sober for 6 years and I have put the course of my professional life on an amazing path. I am fortunate to speak to victims, survivors, victors and advocates all over North America. From little boys to men as old as 82 tell me they too have been victimized. I am honoured each and every time they share with me. They shed tears, they tell me secrets they have never dared to tell anyone else, and they look for some sort of peace in the midst of their hell.

This court must know that pedophiles like Graham James do not ever change. They are devoid of anything good, and their moral compass does not exist. The statistics show 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. A good majority of these children will grow into angry adults who are completely stunted in their emotional growth, and are unable to contribute to healthy and loving relationships. Some will find healing, but many will not, and the after effects of sexual abuse will affect everyone close to them. They will be unable to find decent employment, they will be unable to fully commit to loving relationships, they will be unable to trust, they will be unable to parent their children, they will be unable to really contribute to society. All because a monster like Graham James preyed upon them, took advantage of their trust and their age, to commit heinous crimes on their bodies, souls and spirits. This is an epidemic and it has to stop.

Do not show leniency to Graham James, he certainly never did to me or any of his other prey. He had many opportunities to stop, to get help, to change, and he never took them. In fact, he kept going. He created situations wherein he could abuse me, he lied time and again, and he found how his authority over me could allow him to do whatever he wanted. He instilled not only physical pain, but also deep emotional pain and left scars so deep and so wide it took decades for me to sleep one night in peace. He was purposeful, he planned his assaults, he took the time and the energy to sexually abuse me every chance he got. And believe me, he will do it again and again and again if ever given the chance. He has no remorse. A monster who will sexually assault children should never be let loose in society — never.

When you consider punishment for Graham James I ask this court to think not only about the law, but also about that scared little boy who had nowhere to turn, nowhere to run and nowhere to hide each and every time Graham James raped me. Think about that little boy, his tears and his anger and his helplessness. Think long and hard about YEARS OF SEXUAL ASSAULTS, not just one or two incidents, YEARS OF SEXUAL ASSAULTS, perpetrated by Graham James on me and other children. Think about the journey to hell he sent them and me on. Think about the tears shed that could fill the oceans, rivers and streams by his victims. Think about the ruined relationships, the lost opportunities, the anguish, the fear that follows every waking moment and invades every dream. Only then should you consider punishment. And the punishment should be a lifetime removed from society in a prison where the keys are thrown away, never to be found again.

I urge this court to set an example, not only for other offenders, but to those who have been victimized — that this court and this country takes sexual abuse and assault seriously, and that you'll protect the innocent, harshly punish the guilty and encourage healing for everyone who has ever been even remotely affected by monsters like Graham James.

My name is Theoren Fleury and I am a victor over sexual abuse.



Nevada Ranks High in Child Abuse Cases

LAS VEGAS -- Last week's death of 2-year-old Las Vegas toddler Orlando Morris, allegedly at the hands of convicted sex offender Cory Simmons, sheds fresh light on the issue of child maltreatment in Nevada.

Infants who haven't reached their first birthday have traditionally made up the highest percentage of child maltreatment victims in Nevada, but 2-year-olds have overtaken 1-year-olds for second place on that dubious list, according to the latest data from the Children's Bureau in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A recent report from Journal Pediatrics showed that Nevada was fourth in the nation for children being removed from abusive homes.

Simmons made his initial appearance in a Las Vegas courtroom Wednesday morning. He is accused of killing Morris while he was supposed to be babysitting him. The child's mother was at work. She had only recently entered into a relationship with Simmons.

"They have this illusion of safety," said Rebecca Reyes who is a Shade Tree victim advocate. She says women often enter dangerous relationships because they want emotional and financial security.

In the case of Simmons, Metro Police say he met the woman online and moved in with her quickly thereafter. Simmons was supposed to be watching her three children last Thursday. Detectives say he placed his right hand on the boy's throat for two to three minutes to stop him from crying. The toddler died a short time later. The arrest report also pointed out that the child's rectal area "did not look right."

Nevada's Institute for Children's Research and Policy is trying to end abuse cases. In April, Tara Phebus is launching a campaign called Choose Your Partner Carefully. It forces women to look for red flags in a relationship.

"Things like is he constantly telling you that your kids are annoying or he feels like they're a nuisance," said Tara Phebus, Nevada Institute for Children's Research and Policy.

She also wants to remind women that while Prince Charming might have a connection to you, he may have one with your child.

"It's not their child, they're not the uncle, they're essentially a stranger to that child," she said.

Worst of all, case workers say abusive relationships make children think it's healthy making it harder to end the cycle of abuse.

The number of child fatalities statewide caused by abuse or neglect has zigzagged in recent years. There were 15 fatalities in 2010, 29 in 2009, 17 in 2008, 21 in 2007 and 14 in 2006.



Statistics show child abuse leads to future violence

by Adam Wolfgram

Statistics have proven that child abuse in young children can lead to violent behavior as they get older.

There is a fine line between discipline and abuse in regards to corporal punishment. Many parents use spankings as a way to teach their children how to behave, but when does this old, disciplinary tactic become abuse? Can there be life-altering implications on the victims mind?

It is a common belief among psychologists that parents shouldn't spank as a disciplinary action.

Parents use spanking to teach their children the difference between right and wrong. When people spank their children there are two results: teaching them the actions preceding the spanking were wrong, or that problems are best handled with violence.

In a Tulane University study, health researcher Catherine Taylor found children who are more frequently spanked at age 3 are likely to show more aggressive behavior at age 5.

The study involved nearly 2,500 mothers and 46 percent of them reported they had not used corporal punishment in the last month, 27 percent of mothers said they used spankings once or twice in the past month and 26.5 percent said they spanked their children more than twice in the past month.

The study also took note of which mothers had more risk factors for aggressive disciplinary actions. These factors included stress, depression and drug abuse. The study showed mothers with more risk factors were more apt to spanking their children.

This aggressive behavior in children by age 5 was shown in acts such as screaming, arguing and bullying others.

"There are ways to discipline children effectively that do not involve hitting them and that can actually lower their risk for being more aggressive," Taylor said. "So the good news is, parents don't have to rely on spanking to get the results they want."

Along with Taylor, the American Academy of Pediatrics is one of many medical organizations opposed to corporal punishment. Studies done by professional researchers, though, have not completely put a stop to corporal punishment in homes and even schools.

In 1977, the Supreme Court ruled it legal for schools to spank or paddle students for discipline in areas where local law enforcement does not outlaw it. An example of one of these places is Mississippi.

In 2009, there were 57,953 reports of corporal punishment in 110 of the state's 152 school districts. It was a drop from the previous year, but still an alarming number of reports nonetheless.

The study done at Tulane is just one in a long line of studies dating back decades. It is also one in a long line that has determined exposure to corporal punishment a significant risk factor in children developing psychological disorders as they grow older.

Spanking as punishment should be outlawed. It has been known for years there are more effective ways of disciplining. There is a difference between discipline and punishment, a difference that more parents, and even school officials, should become more aware of. Children at a young age are without a doubt influenced by their experiences while they are young. Learning by example is an important part of being a young child, and learning that hitting or violence is the way to solve problems can only end badly.

Spanking results in children's fear of certain behaviors, and makes them afraid of making mistakes. Mistakes are how children learn what is right and wrong, and there are more effective, less harmful ways of disciplining a child than hitting him or her.


Sexual abuse survivor completes 1,500-mile walk

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Sexual abuse survivor Lauren Book is focused on passing new laws now that she's finished a 1,500-mile walk through Florida.

Book arrived at the old Capitol Wednesday after the 39-day walk to raise awareness about sexual abuse and to support victims.

Book has fought for new laws to help victims and punish abusers since revealing she was raped by a nanny when she was a child.

This year she's seeking $1.5 million for rape crisis centers and supporting two bills (HB 1355 and SB 1816) that would strengthen requirements to report child abuse. Universities would be fined $1 million and stripped of state funding for two years if officials don't report child abuse. That's a response to abuse cases at Penn State, Syracuse University and The Citadel.


Race to Stop the Silence 8K/5K

Child Sexual Abuse creates havoc for children and adult survivors. It's silent and in most cases, is happening right in front of you. Be part of the solution and help stop child sexual abuse. The 8th Annual International Race to Stop the Silence takes place Sunday, April 29 at 9AM on Freedom Plaza in Downtown DC. There will be a variety of races for the whole family, headlined by the 8K and 5K races.



Records show alleged child abuse in RV Park rampage case

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Officials released documents on a family detailing alleged child abuse prior to the father going on a deadly rampage at a South Florida RV park.

According to records at the Department of Children and Families, the department investigated alleged abuse occurring at William DeJesus' house dating back to 2007, but returned the children to the family.

Last month, DeJesus would then shoot and kill the owner of a motor home at a Deerfield Beach RV park. He then stabbed himself and his autistic 9-year-old son to death. DeJesus also wounded his wife and 7-year-old son. "I don't care about him, I care about the kids," said Matt Durkin, who knows the family. "I get emotional every time I think about it because the kids had nothing to do with it."

According to a DCF report, the 7-year-old son called his father a "monster" and feared the "monster was hiding under my bed."

The report goes on to say that DCF was alerted in September of 2007 that DeJesus "choked his wife and punched his children's door, leaving a hole." When police arrived, DeJesus' wife said, "Thank you, thank you. You saved me."

A DCF investigator said "he [DeJesus] is not capable of controlling his temper and drinking habitat," and "the overall risk to the children is high."

In Feb. of 2008, DeJesus' wife told case workers the couple molested their children because "his family had shown their love by touching the children's privates." She went on to say, "he made her believe this was the way to show the children their love." DeJesus' wife also said "she was afraid William would kill her if she refused."

Immediately, DCF removed the boys from the house. During that time, the document says "both children expressed fear of their biological parents."

During a scheduled visit, two workers reported DeJesus "was observed to be aggressive toward the children and repeatedly placed his hands in the children's groin areas as he played with and tossed them around," citing that the children's erratic behavior "was due to severe abuse and neglect." The report went on to say "exposing the boys to their parents would be traumatic for them."

In 2009, the mother of the children recanted all of the molestation and sexual abuse charges.

The children were returned to their parents by DCF in December of 2010. DCF ended all involvement with the DeJesus family, saying there was no physical evidence on the children to prove that they were sexually abused.

As far as last month's event, DCF claims there was nothing they could have done to avoid it, saying the son with autism and his other son were very young and could not speak when they were investigating.

A DCF spokesperson was asked if there was a mistake made on DCF's part by putting those two boys back with their mom and dad based on what is now known. Joe Follick of DCF responded in a phone interview, "The mother recanted and said, 'I made up those allegations, it didn't occur.' At that point we had no physical signs of abuse."

DCF also says that since this case and the Barahona case, they have changed their training practices for case workers so children do not fall through the cracks.



Truckers asked to help stop sex trafficking

by Rikki Cheese

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Authorities in Southern Nevada are asking truck drivers to be the eyes and ears to help fight human sex trafficking in Sin City and the surrounding areas.

The Morton Travel Plaza truck stop at I-15 and Cheyenne was the backdrop for a press conference on Wednesday to call attention to the problem of human trafficking.

Lt. Karen Hughes of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's vice section said, "There are so many different types of places where these pimps will exploit the women, and this is one of them."

Nevada Assemblyman John Hambrick has introduced legislation to strengthen Nevada's human trafficking laws. He says the men and women who drive big rigs through truck stops and across the country, as key to saving girls, boys and adults from being sold for sex. Hambrick said, "These are the eyes and ears."

Hambrick was flanked by a coalition of law enforcement and trucking industry agencies who are asking truckers for help identifying warning signs of sexual exploitation. They include minors, even adults, who seem nervous, afraid and even unaware of their surroundings.

Kendis Paris, the national director for Truckers Against Trafficking said, "The Department of Justice estimates that anywhere between 100 thousand to 300 thousand of America's children are at risk for entering the sex for sale industry every year."

Lt. Hughes says it's a particular problem in Las Vegas, where prostitution is illegal but the perception is, anything goes in Sin City.

Lt. Hughes says, the number of victims of human trafficking locally is significant. "Just since our agency's been tracking them since 1994, we have close to 21-hundred kids that we've identified involved in prostitution, or being trafficked."

Truckers and anyone who suspects a person is a victim of human trafficking is asked to a call a national hot line. That number is 1-888-373-7888.



Foundation Launched to Aid Adult Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors

(Plymouth Meeting, PA) -- Peter S. Pelullo, a former music executive who worked with the Rolling Stones, Foreigner, and Stevie Wonder, has created the Let Go…Let Peace Come In Foundation to help and support adult victims of childhood sexual abuse throughout the world.

"My personal experience during recovery from sexual abuse influenced me to create the Let Go…Let Peace Come In Foundation," says Mr. Pelullo, who is a frequent guest expert on the Dr. Drew show.

"The mission of the foundation is to reach out and bring other men and women to the recovery process. I want to show them they’re not alone and there is hope of finding peace in their lives," says Mr. Pelullo.

The foundation is aligned with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and its research concerning preventing child sexual abuse and improving treatment for survivors of abuse.

It’s estimated there are tens of millions of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the United States today and hundreds of millions more worldwide.

"I believe these numbers might be higher since not every case is reported," says Mr. Pelullo. "Many victims stay silent and hide their sexual abuse because they’re afraid or ashamed, therefore they continue to suffer throughout their lives. We need to remove the stigma surrounding adults who have experienced this childhood trauma so they will seek the help they so desperately need."

Victims from around the world share their courageous and inspiring stories on the foundation’s website,

Recently Mr. Pelullo released the book "Betrayal and the Beast," which focuses on his journey as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. For decades he kept hidden and refused to face his debilitating issues as a survivor of sexual predation-the shame, rage, multiple addictions, depression, and other influences that directly impacted his life. Finally, at the age of fifty-five, Mr. Pelullo confronted the sexual abuse he endured as a child.

The majority of sexually abused children face unprecedented challenges and trauma as they grow into adulthood and are likely to develop long-term disorders such as:

Drug or alcohol addiction
Problems with interpersonal relationships
Personality disorders
Eating disorders
An inability to trust
Suicidal tendencies
Sexual compulsive disorder

"Many childhood sexual abuse victims feel like they are powerless to change their lives and there is no way out," says Mr. Pelullo. "I hope my book and the Let Go…Let Peace Come In foundation will inspire other men and women who have experienced sexual abuse as children to find the hope and courage to break their silence and seek help. Please remember you are not alone and we can help you."

Peter S. Pelullo was the founder of Philly World Records and owner of a premiere recording studio in the ’70s, where he worked with the Rolling Stones, Evelyn "Champagne" King, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Cashmere, and Eugene Wilde. He is now an entrepreneur and financier focusing on technology startups. During his journey in recovery, he created the Let Go…Let Peace Come In Foundation, which supports adult victims of childhood sexual abuse throughout the world.

For more information contact Gretchen Paules at or visit

"Betrayal and the Beast" is available on and

Gretchen Paules
Only Serenity LLC
610 / 825-8805



Know the Signs of Child Sex Abuse

by Stacy Lange

In light of the largest and most public sex abuse scandal in Pennsylvania history involving former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, parents may ask how they make sure their children don't become victims.

The child sex accusations against Sandusky got many people talking about a very sensitive subject.

Local child psychologists say there are lessons to be learned from the highly-publicized scandal.

"There are opportunities that are emerging for dialogs like this, or maybe even for parents who have a concern that their child has had an experience like this, to take that step that they might not have otherwise taken," said Dr. David Palmiter.

He is a child psychologist and professor at Marywood University. He said a parent who suspects abuse should look for some telltale signs.

Kids could relive the abuse in their own actions, they could, all of a sudden, fear things that remind them of the abuse, they could also jump or shy away from any kind of normal closeness.

The bottom line, Dr. Palmiter said, is to not only detect abuse but prevent it by spending time with your child.

"That hour a week is to a child psychologist, what a apple is to a pediatrician," Palmiter added.

Child sexual abuse may be more prevalent than you think. According to the Pennsylvania Psychological Association, nearly one in six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18, and nearly one in four girls. Boys, though, are less likely to tell a parent or other adult about the abuse.

Dr. Palmiter said it all comes back to the parent-child relationship. If there is trust, a child will feel more comfortable reporting the abuse.

"I think that if we have that relationship, a kid who is verbal is more likely to tell us," the psychologist said.

People in law enforcement locally said cases of sexual abuse still go vastly unreported because of the stigma surrounding that kind of abuse. But, they added, that stigma is changing.

"Child pornography and child abuse cases were just in their infancy of being reported and investigated, probably in the late to mid-80s. And now, it's almost become the bread and butter of our investigator's work. We do so much work," said Lackawanna County Detective Chris Kolcharno.

He added it's not that there is more sexual abuse, just that more of it is coming to light and more are getting caught.

Kolcharno said it all starts with the parents keeping track of their child's activity on the playground and online and being aware of who potential predators are.

According to the Pennsylvania Psychological Association, 60 percent of child sexual abusers are acquaintances, people you or your child knows, 30 percent are relatives and only 10 percent or predators are complete strangers.

Kolcharno said predators start by gaining a child's trust, by grooming potential victims with favors or gifts.

If parents suspect their child is being abused, "They need to tell someone. They need to call local police, call the district attorney's office, or they can report it directly to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children," Kolcharno said.

In Pennsylvania, all people who work with children in a professional manner are required by law to report suspected child sexual abuse.

It can be reported directly to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST, or 1-800-843-5678.,0,3482745,print.story



Task Force Continues Initiatives to Help Abused and Neglected Children

UNIVERSITY PARK – Moving ahead with the promise to help prevent and treat child abuse, a Penn State task force has started to marshal the University’s research and expertise in these areas.

The Presidential Task Force on Child Maltreatment brings together a broad spectrum of faculty from across the University to coordinate and develop research, clinical practice, outreach and education on child maltreatment.

Penn State President Rodney Erickson commissioned the task force, along with other initiatives, following the allegations in November of sexual abuse against a retired assistant football coach. Erickson said Penn State is committed to being the national leader on the prevention and treatment of child maltreatment.

“We have resolved to raise broader awareness of issues of child abuse and find ways to prevent these crimes while also treating victims and helping them to heal,” Erickson said. “This task force will bring together our University’s greatest strengths and help us to develop new programs that will make a lasting impact in addressing issues of child maltreatment.”

Penn State previously announced the formation of the Penn State Hershey Center for Child Protection and a partnership to prevent and treat sexual abuse with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

The task force is co-chaired by Susan McHale, professor of human development and director of the Children, Youth and Families Consortium and Social Science Research Institute; and A. Craig Hillemeier, vice dean for clinical affairs and chair of the department of pediatrics and medical director at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.

The formation of this task force is the beginning of a process that will provide faculty from across the University the opportunity to work together and receive the support they need to address issues of child maltreatment.

“Our faculty already is recognized nationally and internationally for its work on behalf of children and their families,” McHale said. “Many faculty members have devoted their careers to promoting the health and well-being of children throughout Pennsylvania, across the nation and around the world. A University-wide, interdisciplinary initiative engenders a renewed awareness of the complex problem of child maltreatment and gives us the opportunity to respond in a meaningful way.”

The scope of child maltreatment is difficult to gauge. Although it is estimated that about one-third of victims never disclose their abuse, some data suggest that 25 percent of girls and 17 percent of boys will be sexually abused and that there are more than 42 million adult survivors of sexual abuse in the United States alone. Rates of child neglect and maltreatment are even higher, with social, political and economic conditions around the world making children ever more vulnerable.

Faculty from across the University have been convened to develop a proposal for how Penn State can make significant contributions to knowledge, practice, education and outreach on child maltreatment and protection. Members include faculty from the colleges of Agricultural Sciences, Communications, Education, Engineering, Health and Human Development, Information Sciences and Technology, the Liberal Arts, Medicine and Science; Penn State Law; School of Nursing; University Libraries; and Penn State Outreach.

The task force also will develop a plan for promoting and supporting new research, clinical practice and outreach for the prevention and treatment of child maltreatment, and its recommendations will be presented to Erickson.

As part of its work, the task force will review and integrate new activities and initiatives across Penn State, including the launch of the Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children. Additionally, the task force, through the Children, Youth and Families Consortium (CYFC) Seed Grant Program, has announced a call for proposals by Penn State research teams to conduct new, interdisciplinary research on child maltreatment. CYFC’s Faculty Fellows program has issued a call for proposals by faculty who wish to redirect their research programs to encompass child abuse and neglect issues.

An inventory of existing teaching, research, clinical and outreach resources is under way to identify existing areas of strength — such as Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital and the CYFC — and develop new ones.

“A University-wide initiative is an opportunity to draw on expertise and resources such as the Colleges of IST and Science that have not traditionally emphasized child health and well-being,” Hillemeier said. “We will work to identify new areas of expertise that may shine new light on these issues through a novel, interdisciplinary endeavor.”

For an overview of identified courses, see

Members of the task force will meet with internationally recognized leaders in related fields to help identify areas where Penn State can make its greatest contributions and identify experts who may help lead the initiative.

Seeking to identify possible components of a Penn State initiative, the task force will assess the structures and accomplishments of existing institutes and centers around the country that focus on child maltreatment and sexual abuse.

“We are seeking a transformative, interdisciplinary approach to child health and wellness,” McHale said. “This is a response that is worthy of our tradition of academic excellence at Penn State.”



Giving child sex abuse victims more time to sue abusers

by O. Kay Henderson

Iowans who were sexually abused as children would have more time to file a lawsuit against their alleged abuser if a bill pending in the Iowa Senate becomes law.

Today, someone who was sexually abused as a child must file a lawsuit against their alleged abuser after they turn 18 — and before they turn 19. Bill LaHay of Des Moines says when he was a child, he was abused by a Catholic priest and he’s urging legislators to change the law.

“Anything that offers a person — a survivor, a victim — more time to come to terms with that is a good thing,” LaHay says.

Under the bill, victims of child sexual abuse would have nine more years to file a lawsuit against their abuser seeking damages — right up until the victim reaches the age of 29. LaHay says few 18-year-olds understand the consequences of the abuse they may have suffered as a child.

“The things that really show the damages don’t start happening until you see repetitive patterns in job or professional life, in relationships or marriage issues, or anything like that,” LaHay says. “So it takes a while for some of the damages to actually surface in a way that’s serious enough for a person to recognize this may be more than normal difficulties they may be experiencing.”

Paul Koeniguer of Des Moines says his daughter was sexually abused between the ages of four and 14, and she didn’t realize how the abuse had affected her until she was in her mid-20s — far beyond the current cut-off for filing a civil lawsuit against her alleged abuser.

“It is such a serious crime. The effects on her have been catastrophic,” Koeniguer says. “I mean, she’s still struggling with it and she’s in her 40s. The seriousness of the crime, I think, bears extending the statute of limitations significantly.”

The phrase “statute of limitations” is a reference to the limit or deadline for filing a lawsuit. Under current law someone has a year after they become an adult to file a civil lawsuit against someone who sexually abused them as a child. Many states give child sexual abuse victims longer periods of time to go to court and seek damages from an alleged abuser. Some critics have warned courts would be overwhelmed by such cases, but LaHay says that hasn’t happened in other states.

“It isn’t a blank check for any kind of casual action. Every person that I know of had to go through extensive affidavits, depositions, evaluations by forensic psychologists,” LaHay says. “You run a gauntlet, so the idea that there would be a risk of fraudulent or casual exploitation of this, I think, has never been proven.”

The bill would also give those who “become aware” of abuse they suffered when they were under the age of 14 up to a decade to file a lawsuit after that moment of discovery. The bill also gives law enforcement a much longer period of time to build a criminal case against someone suspected of sexually abusing minors.

Three state senators have signed off on the bill and the legislation will be considered by a senate committee later this week.


South Dakota

SD House panel passes bill on child abuse reports

PIERRE, S.D. (WTW) — Members of a House panel have approved a bill that strengthens South Dakota's enforced reporting of child abuse and neglect.

The House Health and Human Services Committee voted 11-0 on the measure Tuesday.

The bill adds volunteers or employees with child advocacy organizations or child welfare service providers to a list of professionals already responsible for calling authorities about any incidents.

Sen. Todd Schlekeway, the main sponsor, says the measure is influenced by the Penn State sex abuse scandal. He says the aim is to have more "eyeballs" watching out for abuse.

Those who intentionally don't report an incident face a Class 1 misdemeanor charge.

The Senate floor passed it unanimously earlier this month. Now the bill goes to the House floor.



Lawsuit Against Boy Scouts Of America Cites Abuse By Former Madison Scoutmaster

Some abuse occurred at Camp Deer Lake in Killingworth and St. Andrew's Church in Madison, suit says. Lawsuit filed Tuesday says Boy Scouts of America knew or should have know about the pedophile because he did it before he came to Madison.

by Pem McNerney

Two men who were members of Madison Boy Scout Troop # 490 have filed suit against the Boy Scouts of America, saying that they were abused by their former scoutmaster, David "Dirk" Davenport, when they were members of the troop in the early 1980's.

The lawsuit, in New Haven Superior Court, is being filed against the Boy Scouts of America, Corp., the Connecticut Yankee Council, Inc., and the Boy Scouts of America.

The lawyer for the two men, Kelly Clark of Portland, Oregon, who specializes in cases relating to abuse by Boy Scout leaders, says that the scouting organization knew or should have known that Davenport was a pedophile, because he was accused of child molestation while involved with the scouts in Weeping Water, Nebraska, Dodge Center, Minnesota, and Medford, Minnesota, all before coming to Madison. Lawyers for the men who filed the suit Tuesday say Davenport now reportedly resides in Thailand.

"20,000 pages representing the Perversion files"

"The allegations that we're making in this lawsuit are similar to ones we've brought elsewhere," said Clark, who has more than 60 cases in more than a dozen states against the Boy Scouts of America. "We had a trial in Portland, Oregon two years ago. We entered into evidence 20,000 pages that represented the Perversion files of the Boy Scouts from 1965 to 1985. We contend, and the jury agreed, that the Boy Scouts realized they had a serious problem with pedophiles, but they really didn't take active steps to deal with it. And they didn't warn parents and families about the risks. In this case, between what they knew institutionally about the organization being targeted by pedophiles, and what they knew or should have known about this scoutmaster, we contend that they were negligent in terms of protecting kids."

A jury in the Oregon trial against Boy Scouts of America awarded $18.5 million in punitive damages.

Clark says Davenport was a scoutmaster in Madison for a year or two before he was arrested and convicted. Clark said it appears as though as many as nine children, or more, may have been involved in the abuse.

At least nine victims

"The state's attorney at the time identified at least nine victims," Clark said. "We don't know if all of them were scouts."

Frank C. Bartlett, Jr., a lawyer from the Cheshire law firm of Ouellette, Deganis & Gallagher, LLC said that some of the abuse occurred at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Madison. He said that the church is where the scout meetings were held. "We are not saying that Mr. Davenport was associated with the church or that the church knew what was going on," he said.

The suit also says some of the abuse occurred at Camp Deer Lake in Killingworth. Deer Lake Scout Reservation is a 253-acre property owned and operated by the Connecticut Yankee Council.

Pervasive problems typical of those abused by someone they trust

Clark said the victims, now in their early 40's, suffer from panic attacks, relationship problems, and other issues. He said this is typical of victims who are abused by someone they trust.

"One of two things happens," Clark says. "Either the victims internalize all of this and end up with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. Or they externalize them and end up with problems with violence, a history of drug and alcohol abuse, or multiple addictions."

Clark said one of the victims decided to take action against his abuser, and the organization he was a part of, after his child was born.

The scouts looked up to their scoutmaster, considered him a friend

Clark said Davenport cultivated his victims by buying them pizza, gifts, befriending them, and making them feel special when they were between 13 and 15 years old. Clark said the victims looked up to Davenport.

"Oftentimes, with kids and a trusted adult who is an abuser, whether it's a priest or a scoutmaster or someone else they know, the damage comes not so much from the molestation and abuse, but from the betrayal," Clark said. "They wonder, 'who can I trust?' Studies show that kids are almost better off being assaulted by total strangers. So maybe they know the world is not always a safe place, but they still have trust in people they know. When you are betrayed by a trusted friend, who in the world can you trust?"

Abuse occured on camping trips, troop meetings, events, while working on merit badges

The lawsuit says that from about 1984 to 1985, Davenport subjected the victims to multiple instances of sexual abuse, molestation, and assault while on camping trips, troop meetings, events, and while the scouts were working on merit badges.

The victims subsequently suffered from a wide array of physical, mental and emotional pain and suffering as a result, the suit says, and, "as a further result ... the Plaintiff has been prevented from and deprived of the opportunity to fully enjoy his childhood and adolescence."

“Childhood sexual abuse is a kind of vandalism to the soul,” said Clark in a prepared release, “and most survivors take decades before they are able to come to grips with it. These men have had a long road of silent shame, and they have a long way to go to find healing and closure.”

Davenport served several years in prison

Bartlett added, “the Connecticut Legislature obviously understood the delayed disclosure dynamic in child abuse cases, and wisely provided that survivors of child sexual abuse should have until 30 years after their 18th birthdays to bring legal action for their abuse.”

An article in the Providence Journal says "Davenport was arrested in Guilford, Conn., in 1985 on charges that he abused boys. The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., has reported he pleaded guilty to two charges and served 2 1/2 years in prison. Prison officials declined Tuesday to immediately provide records."

Boy Scouts of America response

An article on provides a response from the Boy Scouts of America that says "The abuse of anyone, and especially children, is abhorrent and intolerable, and the Boy Scouts of America continues to evolve our multi-layered youth protection efforts. In the 25 years since the events described, Scouting has mandated training and education for everyone in our organization and designed policies that prevent one-on-one contact between youth and adults. Today, anyone suspected of abuse is immediately removed from Scouting, reported to law enforcement and Scout executives and added to our Ineligible Volunteer Files ... ..upon becoming aware of this abuse, this man was immediately removed from Scouting, and was prosecuted and convicted by the authorities."

The Boy Scouts of America also currently has a Youth Protection Program: "Scouting takes any allegations of inappropriate behavior seriously, whether or not the individual ever served as a Scout leader, and whether or not that person behaved inappropriately with a Scout or any other child. Scouting policy requires the prompt reporting of inappropriate conduct. When such issues are reported, the individual is added to the Ineligible Volunteer Files maintained by the National Council, whether or not the allegations are proven. The Ineligible Volunteer Files have successfully kept dangerous and potentially dangerous individuals out by enabling Scouting to identify those individuals who have been barred from the organization, even based on suspicion alone."



LAUSD substitute thrice accused of abuse moved to another district

The substitute teacher quit after the third inquiry and started working in Inglewood schools. Police later found video of him molesting a girl in that district; he was charged, but he fled and is at large.

by Alan Zarembo, Howard Blume and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times

February 22, 2012

During five years as a frequent substitute teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District, George Hernandez was investigated by police three times for allegations of sexual misconduct involving students.

Although he was never arrested, Hernandez resigned a week after the third investigation in 2007.

But his teaching career wasn't over.

Weeks later, he joined the roster of substitutes in the Inglewood Unified School District and taught there for nearly three years — until police discovered a videotape they say shows him molesting a second-grade girl at school. Hernandez, now 45, was charged but then fled and remains at large.

Experts said they can't understand why the Los Angeles school district allowed Hernandez to teach for so long despite the accusations.

"This guy should not have been kept in the district," said Kathleen Carroll, an attorney who worked for the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing. "This is an outrage."

L.A. Unified is looking into the situation but has found no evidence that it ever reported Hernandez to the state credentialing commission, said David Holmquist, the district's general counsel. The commission could have suspended or revoked Hernandez's credential, preventing other school districts from hiring him.

For its part, the Inglewood school district violated its own procedures by not fully vetting Hernandez's background before hiring him.

A civil lawsuit brought by the mother of the Inglewood student alleges that L.A. Unified is liable for not taking action against Hernandez before he could harm her daughter. The Times generally does not publish the names of alleged victims of sex crimes.

"This is no different than moving an aberrant priest from one area to another," said Sanford Jossen, a Manhattan Beach attorney representing the girl.

Teachers accused of sexual misconduct but never convicted have long presented school districts with a challenge because of their employment protections. But substitute teachers serve at the will of districts and can be released or fired at any time.

In the last month, several L.A. Unified employees have been accused of abuse. The most explosive case centers on Mark Berndt, a teacher at Miramonte Elementary School in the Florence-Firestone neighborhood of South Los Angeles who is charged with 23 counts of lewd conduct against students. Berndt allegedly took hundreds of photographs showing students blindfolded and gagged, and in some cases, being spoon-fed what authorities believe was his semen.

The school had several prior complaints about Berndt: an allegation in the 1990-91 school year that he appeared to masturbate behind his desk; a claim of inappropriate touching in 1994; and, more recently, complaints by parents about his penchant for photographing students.

The first allegation against Hernandez came in 2004, a year after he started teaching in L.A. Unified, records show. He was accused of touching himself while reading to a student at Figueroa Elementary School in South Los Angeles. Investigators talked to the alleged victim, but prosecutors deemed the evidence insufficient and rejected the case, according to Los Angeles Police Department officials.

The department looked at Hernandez again in 2006, after three girls at 68th Street Elementary School, also in South L.A., reported that he patted or rubbed their backs, shoulders and buttocks in a way that made them uncomfortable. Investigators could confirm no sexual conduct and, again, made no arrest.

In 2007, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department investigated an allegation at Russell Elementary School in Florence-Firestone that Hernandez had touched a girl's genitals on multiple occasions. Prosecutors again declined to pursue the case.

Hernandez's last day of work in L.A. Unified was in June 2007, according to employment records. District officials said Hernandez resigned the following Sept. 28.

The officials declined to discuss the circumstances of his departure. Huntington Park police reported that Hernandez left L.A. Unified, which serves students in that city, "in lieu of termination." Their source was a school police officer.

The district was not legally obligated to report Hernandez to the commission after the 2004 or 2006 allegations because he was not disciplined or charged with a crime and he kept working for the district, said experts, including former commission attorneys. But when Hernandez resigned in 2007, he was under a cloud of suspicion — circumstances that legal experts said should have compelled the district to notify the commission.

The commission automatically revokes certification for teachers convicted of sexually abusing students and often chooses to do the same in cases of those who are accused but not convicted.

"Whether the police say they're going to do something or not, you submit a report to the state and you let the state decide whether or not there's enough evidence," said Robert R. Barner, a former L.A. Unified assistant superintendent and a professor in the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University. "You have an ethical and moral obligation to make sure children are protected."

When Hernandez applied to the Inglewood district in October 2007, the state commission verified a current and clean credential, according to personnel records reviewed by The Times. And with no history of arrests or charges ever filed, he also passed a standard criminal background check.

Inglewood Unified requires teachers applying for jobs to submit three letters of recommendation that are less than a year old. All of Hernandez's letters predated his teaching career. There is no indication that Inglewood Unified spoke with anybody in L.A. Unified before hiring Hernandez.

Inglewood Supt. Gary McHenry, school board President Johnny Young and a lawyer representing the district declined to be interviewed.

Between January 2008 and August 2010, Hernandez taught 403 days at 15 Inglewood schools, according to district records. His first long-term assignment was at Beulah Payne Elementary, where he filled in for a teacher on maternity leave starting in February 2008.

It was during that time, police say, that Hernandez molested a second-grade girl, who was 7 at the time.

The alleged abuse went undiscovered until September 2010, when an 11-year-old girl reported that a man in an SUV had pulled up to her outside L.A. Unified's Gage Middle School in Huntington Park and exposed himself. A license plate number led Huntington Park police to Hernandez.

Detectives searched his garage apartment and found 157 videotapes — two dozen of which included material that they deemed "inappropriate."

The 14-minute video of the second-grader is described in a police report reviewed by The Times. Alone with her in his classroom, Hernandez can be seen reaching under her clothing and pulling her onto his lap. At one point, another student enters the room and Hernandez sternly orders her to leave, the report says.

The report also describes videos showing different classrooms where Hernandez allegedly hid cameras and sought to focus in on the chests and groins of elementary school students. Investigators determined that several tapes were made in a classroom at L.A. Unified's Martin Luther King Elementary in South Los Angeles, where Hernandez had a long-term assignment in 2005.

Other scenes appeared to be shot from Hernandez's car and show young girls at the beach. In one video, the camera zooms in on a naked toddler.

Hernandez was charged with one count of indecent exposure and a second count of possessing child pornography.

He missed a court date in September 2010 and became a fugitive. Huntington Park Det. Jose Macias said relatives told him Hernandez is living in the Mexican state of Jalisco.

According to a police report, Hernandez opened up to his interrogators in 2010, confessing that he was fighting an increasing attraction to underage girls and an addiction to child pornography.

"He said that he feels his mind is ruined," a detective wrote.

Hernandez told the detectives that he had been sexually abused by a Boy Scout troop leader when he was 6 and that he was introduced to pornographic images of children in 2000 at a local seminary, where he had earned a degree in philosophy and considered the priesthood before taking up teaching.,0,5056611.story



11 children removed from Texas home in abuse case


DAYTON, Texas (AP) -- Texas authorities said Tuesday they removed 11 children from a crowded home where a registered sex offender lives after they found eight confined in a small, dark bedroom with restraints tying some to their beds.

Along with the children, 10 adults were living in the one-story, 1,700-square-foot home in Dayton, about 30 miles northeast of Houston, Child Protective Services spokeswoman Gwen Carter said. One month after a raid on the house, authorities are still trying to determine how the children are related and why they were there, she said.

The children ranged in age from 5 months to 11 years. Three who were age 5 or older had not been enrolled in school, Carter said.

The children were removed after authorities found two 2-year-old children tied to a bed during a January visit to the home, according to a court document.

A legally blind, 5-year-old girl "was in a restraint on a filthy mattress, and appeared to be in a daze," the document said. One child had a black eye and knocked-out tooth.

The adults told investigators they tied the children when they slept or took a nap during the day "for safety," the document said. An investigator noted that none of the adults said they saw anything wrong with the arrangement.

Two of the children had what authorities feared was pneumonia and were taken to a children's hospital. All have since been placed in foster homes, Carter said.

The case is still under investigation, and Dayton Police Sgt. Doug O'Quinn said officials are looking into criminal charges. Liberty County District Attorney Mike Little said his office would present a case to a grand jury next month, but he declined to discuss possible suspects or charges.

"Our primary concern was to make sure that the children were stable and safe," Carter said.

The home with a "No Trespassing" sign out front is in a subdivision near land used for farming and ranching. A tricycle and other toys were in the backyard Tuesday, and several cars were parked outside.

People leaving the home declined to talk to media assembled outside, and other residents and their relatives declined to comment or didn't respond to phone messages.

One person in Texas' online sex offender registry listed the house as his address. Mark E. Marsh III was convicted in Michigan 15 years ago of criminal sexual conduct with a 15-year-old girl. He did not have a working phone number listed.

Neighbor Wayne Hardin said he never saw the youngest children and had no idea so many people were living in the house. Though he often saw eight or more cars parked outside, Hardin said he was told the residents had a big family.

"I was shocked," said Hardin, who had called police about loud music blaring from the house. "We didn't have a clue."

Along with the children, two teenage runaways with a stolen car were at the home, authorities said. The boys, both 16, admitted running away from foster homes, smoking marijuana and driving a car they knew was stolen, authorities said.

Carter said the home was not registered as a foster home or day care.



Buying sex? It will cost you

by Ed Davis and Swanee Hunt

Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery in this country. A century and a half later, people are still bought and sold – here in Boston.

Attorney General Martha Coakley warns that human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in Massachusetts. The term “trafficking” evokes images of people smuggled across borders; but FBI, UN, and Congressional definitions describe any children, women, or men coerced into physical violence, mental abuse, and even death.

Take a look (or don’t) at, so-called massage parlors and escort services, as well as the seediest or most upscale bars and hotels across the Commonwealth. It’s right under our noses.

Organized crime has to be fought with organized action: we’re teaming up to bust those abusing the most vulnerable among us. On Sunday, the nation’s strongest anti-trafficking legislation went into effect. The new law supports victims of human trafficking (which includes most prostitution), increases punishment of pimps and complicit businesses, and – focusing on cause, not effect – targets those fueling the sex market: the buyers.

Want to buy sex in Massachusetts? Think again.

It will now cost a buyer a minimum of $1,000 – but could set him back as much as $5,000. Or he may get two and a half years in jail to reflect on how his actions perpetuated an inherently violent and misogynist industry.

Buying in Boston? Our Boston Police Department was cracking down on “johns” even before this legislation; now the heat is getting hotter.

Over Super Bowl weekend, Boston police arrested 15 buyers — including two charged with trying to purchase a 15-year-old girl. Most were white, married, in their forties. The operation was part of the second “National Day of Johns Arrests,” organized by Cook County (Illinois) Sheriff Tom Dart, which brought together more than a dozen local and federal agencies across eight states to nab 359 would-be-buyers.

Across the Unites States, the growing trend among criminal justice professionals, legislators, and non-profits is to stress not just the supply (mostly women and children) or distribution (pimps and other traffickers), but the demand (johns). Sure it’s hard to stop men from acting on destructive urges. But that will happen more quickly than solving problems that generate the supply: like racism (still pervasive), poverty (22 percdnt of America’s kids), and child abuse (which produce runaways, picked up almost immediately by pimps).

Many countries – beginning 13 years ago with Sweden – are demonstrating how stopping demand dramatically decreases the number of prostituted people. In the United States:

• Billboards tower above highways in Florida, Georgia, and Illinois, break the news to buyers with messages such as “Dear John, It’s over.”

• Eighty communities are running “john schools” -- classes that expose first-time offenders to the realities of the sex trade and warn them of future penalties. (The US Justice Department contracted with Boston’s Abt Associates, which found that a San Francisco one-day course designed by a survivor, showed forty percent less recidivism).

• Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller signed a pledge to end public tolerance for the sex industry as part of his anti-demand awareness campaign during the Super Bowl. His efforts are part of the National Association of Attorneys General platform, which includes demand reduction.

Other communities and police from Seattle to Denver to New York City are educating boys to prevent them from becoming buyers, forming neighborhood watch groups to report trolling men, and sending letters home notifying johns to appear in court. Some are considering adding buyers to sex offender registries or collecting their DNA.

Opponents argue that picking up “consenting adults” for a “victimless crime” is Victorian.

But what’s outdated is the notion that prostitution is harmless. Both of us have seen firsthand the devastation on those whose bodies are bought, on families and communities, and on the buyers themselves.

Granted, a small percentage of women in prostitution claim they’re opting for a career like any other. But in the US, females enter “the life” in their early teens and are statutorily raped thousands of times before they are “consenting adults.” At that point, what are their options?

Adds Mary Setterholm, “For some of us, our dignified choice to support our families led us into this socially 'undignified' sex trade. But to combine consent with extreme sexual objectification is like saying women demanded liberty to be slaves. The new law is shifting a spotlight on the core issue - demand, not choice.”

Long story short, solid public policy doesn’t shape laws to protect the wishes of a small minority when evidence of harm to the majority is crushing.

But will higher penalties against buyers make a difference? Boys will be boys, right? Wrong. We cracked that myth with domestic violence. Now we charge the abuser even if his partner “chooses” to stay with him.

In a recent study commissioned by Demand Abolition, purchasers say that levying higher fines and jail time, impounding cars, and notifying family members would deter them. But all those depend on police action. That’s why the Boston PD is docking the buyers and supporting the bought. We must remember that every girl victimized by a buyer or pimp is someone's daughter, and we must work together to end exploitation. Some guys may be shamed, but the Great Emancipator would be proud.

Ed Davis is Boston's police commissioner. Swanee Hunt, chair of Demand Abolition, is a lecturer in public policy and a senior adviser for trafficking research at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.


West Virginia

House passes human trafficking bill

by The Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia would join 48 states to combat human trafficking, through a measure unanimously passed by the House of Delegates.

Tuesday's vote sends the state Senate a bill targeting forced labor or sex as well as child prostitution.

People who coerce, compel or lure others into such conduct would be guilty of felonies. They would face five-figure fines and prison terms of at least 10 years.

Trafficking itself would also be a felony. So would be the taking of someone's passport or other identification document for the purposes of human trafficking.

Tuesday's bill revises and clarifies the state's law against kidnapping. It also calls on the governor's crime committee to develop training standards for law enforcement so they can investigate human trafficking.


U.S. Visas Aid Trafficking Victims, At Their Peril

by Ambika Kandasamy

A special visa created 12 years ago to save thousands of victims of human trafficking and curb international human trafficking has been vastly underutilized.

Attorneys for rescued victims seeking residency protection say law enforcement agencies are often unwilling or slow to “certify” victims’ claims of having been brought to the U.S. to work by force, fraud or coercion.

Legal experts and social service providers in high-trafficking regions, including the San Francisco Bay Area, suggest that victims are placed in a dangerous dilemma: Promising to cooperate with an investigation could possibly help their visa cases, but it could also expose them and their families back home to retaliation.

One result is that victims only apply for a fraction of the visas available each year. Last year the government received one-fifth of its quota, and of the applications received nearly 23 percent were rejected.

Lawyers and service providers for trafficking victims said the lack of assistance from law enforcement slowed or derailed what they called deserving applications. In one case, a domestic servant who worked 16-hour days for no pay for years earned a T visa with the help of a crusading lawyer despite the lack of certification by federal law enforcement officials.

Created by the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, the T-1 Nonimmigrant Status visa provides trafficking victims from foreign countries temporary legal status, with an opportunity to apply for permanent residency and access to federal benefits if they cooperate with law enforcement in the investigations of their traffickers. Minors and those unable to participate in investigations because of physical or psychological trauma are excused, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that adjudicates the visa applications.

Data supplied by the agency reveals that only a few hundred T visas have been issued each year since the program began, despite a yearly quota of 5,000 available. According to the agency, in the last fiscal year 557 T visa applications were approved and 223 were rejected.

The original federal trafficking law, authored by Rep. Christopher Smith, R-New Jersey, has been reauthorized three times, and revisions have included lowering the visa qualification standards and increasing services available to trafficking victims.

Scholars specializing in international human trafficking laws say the program is flawed because the help it offers victims is hinged on their willingness to assist in the investigations.

“It would be much better to have a system where your protections were not dependent on you giving evidence against the person who trafficked you, which is the case for children,” said Jacqueline Bhabha, director of research at Harvard University’s François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights.

Helping Law Enforcement

The T visa application encourages applicants to submit “primary evidence” of their cooperation, which consists of a law enforcement certification that they have agreed to support investigations of their traffickers.

Attorneys and social service providers who work with T visa applicants say obtaining the certification is often an impediment in the application process.

Zoraida Peña Canal was trafficked from Peru to be a domestic servant in Contra Costa County five years ago. Sacramento attorney Avantika Rao helped her obtain a T visa, even though she said she was unable to get certification from law enforcement.

Peña Canal entered the U.S. in July 2006 to live with and work for a Walnut Creek family. She was put to work from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day for no pay caring for two children and doing chores, though her employer assured her that she would be paid.

Rao said Peña Canal escaped with the help of three neighbors. She learned about Peña Canal’s case when she was working at La Raza Centro Legal, a San Francisco-based organization that provides legal services to immigrants and low-income people.

Rao said in an email that law enforcement denied the certification though her client was doing everything possible to cooperate in the investigation.

“Ms. Peña Canal and I met with law enforcement agents and the U.S. Attorney’s Office on at least a dozen occasions during which Ms. Peña Canal provided physical evidence as well as testimony with regards to the crime,” Rao said.

After a series of requests to the U.S. Attorney’s Office to supply the certification, she was notified in September 2008 that the office would not provide the document.

“I was absolutely devastated by their decision, especially because they implied that they did not trust my client and did not view her case as important,” Rao said.

She submitted the T visa application anyway, without the certification. The lack of certification, she said, places “a much higher burden on the victim’s advocate to insert more details and documents in the T visa application, all of which are potentially discoverable by counsel for the trafficker in a legal proceeding.”

Despite these hurdles, Peña Canal’s T visa application was approved in January 2009.

Peña Canal relocated to San Francisco, where she now can be legally employed. She works as a janitor at a San Francisco company, cares for seniors in their homes and cleans houses on a referral basis.

Fear of Retaliation

Government agencies denying certification for T visa applicants is a common theme. Hilary Chester, associate director of anti-trafficking services at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, said law enforcement officials stalled on signing the certification for a client who was trafficked from El Salvador.

“I think what still bothers me personally is this notion that so much weight is given to the law enforcement piece, and that there is this requirement that a person be willing to cooperate in the prosecution,” Chester said. “I think it’s slippery.”

Her client did receive a T visa — more than two years later.

Legal service providers said that in addition to the hassle of getting law enforcement’s blessing, trafficked individuals also fear that applying for the visa may subject their families back home to threats.

“I think the biggest concerns are not so much fear in reporting the trafficking or talking to law enforcement about what’s happened, but it is very scary to be in a situation where they may potentially have to confront their traffickers in court — and the fears of retaliation for family back home,” said Lynette Parker, clinical supervising attorney for the immigration program of the Katharine and George Alexander Community Law Center, based at Santa Clara University.

“One of the biggest challenges for us is to identify NGOs on the ground in the home countries that can help give information and provide safety to the families,” she said, adding that many non-governmental organizations provide services to victims in coordination with U.S. groups.

Some clients are also apprehensive about going through with the investigations because of the stigma they and their families might face in their communities if U.S. investigators start asking questions abroad, as the FBI does occasionally.

Hediana Utarti, community projects coordinator at the Asian Women’s Shelter in San Francisco, said she had a case in which a family brought a young woman to the U.S. from Asia by promising her work as a cook and offering to send her to school. She said the woman did cook, but was also forced to participate in sex parties in the family’s home.

Utarti said that when the trafficking survivor applied for a T visa, law enforcement officials interviewed her, and they contacted her client’s siblings in her home country for the investigation.

“So it’s very scary for that person to have that situation where there are a lot of people talking about you,” Utarti said.

Steven Merrill, a supervisory special agent at the FBI’s San Francisco office, said agents sometimes travel to home countries of trafficked victims, but it is rare.

He said the hardest part for investigators in trafficking cases is that in many cases victims are unwilling to share their stories of victimization.

“There’s a variety of reasons why that may be, but that will always remain a difficulty from the FBI and any other law enforcement’s perspective in accomplishing our mission to put human traffickers — to convict them in court,” Merrill said.

Success Stories

In cases in which the T visa program works, it offers trafficking victims freedom to emerge from oppressive situations and live and work in the country.

A 63-year-old Bay Area woman who was trafficked from Peru to the U.S. by her brother-in-law said she was paid $80 every 15 days for working at his house in Los Angeles.

The woman, who requested anonymity for fear that her trafficker might track her down, said in an interview that she worked about 14 hours a day, seven days a week. She said he forbade her from contacting her family in Lima, Peru.

“They didn’t want me to answer the phone, they didn’t want me to call my children on the phone,” she said. “I would never receive a letter from my kids. Nothing. They didn’t want me to go to church either. I am Catholic, so I wanted to go every Sunday, but they didn’t want me to go to the street, leave the garden. They didn’t want me to go out at all.”

After fleeing the situation, she was helped by the attorneys at Santa Clara University to obtain a T visa, and she is now free to live and work in the U.S.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has sought to raise public awareness of the T visa program. Sharon Rummery, the agency’s spokeswoman in San Francisco, said her office has provided training nationwide to law enforcement, community-based organizations and the media, to explain the T visa and similar programs.

“We very much want people to know that the T is available, people to understand what it means to be trafficked,” she said. “Some people may not even know that they’ve been trafficked.”

Overcoming Isolation

Some human trafficking experts said that building a life in the U.S. after receiving a T visa is challenging for survivors because they feel isolated, and have trouble finding long-term housing and accessing victim services.

Denise Brennan, an associate professor and chair of the anthropology department at Georgetown University, said that in contrast to trafficking survivors, political and economic refugees tend to settle in communities where others from their communities are located.

“Generally speaking, refugees, they are not moving to a community completely alone,” Brennan said. “Formerly trafficked persons generally are resettled alone in communities that are not made up of formerly trafficked persons. In fact, no one would know that they were trafficked unless they told them.”

Some Bay Area advocates for trafficking survivors said that finding long-term housing after escaping is also problematic.

Mollie Ring, chief of programs at Standing Against Global Exploitation, a nonprofit group that provides services to trafficking victims, said it is tough for her clients to find affordable housing in San Francisco after they leave short-term, transitional housing.

Victims, she said, face a dilemma: “A client sometimes leaves the Bay Area in order to find a reasonable quality of life. But that means that they are disconnected from services. So it’s some of the Catch-22 there.”


Washington State

Washington Legislature: House hears bill on child abuse reporting

by Justin Runquist

OLYMPIA – Legislators are working to seal the cracks that allow child abuse to go unreported at schools.

A bill making its way through the state House requires college employees in athletic, academic and administrative departments to report any signs of suspected child abuse or neglect to law enforcement officials or the Department of Social and Health Services.

The measure deems those school employees "mandatory reporters," meaning that their failure to speak up about potential instances of child abuse could earn them some jail time or a fine up to $5,000.

According to the bill, all other college employees must at least tell "mandatory reporters" about anything they observe that may be a sign of child abuse. The legislation also requires schools to ensure employees are aware of this responsibility.

Mandates on who must officially disclose any witnessed signs of child abuse have evolved over the past 20 years to include more government officials and adults in positions of authority over children.

The bill passed the Senate with full support from both Republicans and Democrats last week. It came up for its first House hearing Monday night in the Committee on Early Learning and Human Services.

Two members of the Legislative Youth Advisory Council briefly spoke in support of the bill. No one testified against it. The measure could come up for a committee vote later this week.



Task force continues initiatives to help abused and neglected children

February 21, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Moving ahead with the promise to help prevent and treat child abuse, a Penn State task force has started to marshal the University's research and expertise in these areas.

The Presidential Task Force on Child Maltreatment brings together a broad spectrum of faculty from across the University to coordinate and develop research, clinical practice, outreach and education on child maltreatment.

Penn State President Rodney Erickson commissioned the task force, along with other initiatives, following the allegations in November of sexual abuse against a retired assistant football coach. Erickson said Penn State is committed to being the national leader on the prevention and treatment of child maltreatment.

"We have resolved to raise broader awareness of issues of child abuse and find ways to prevent these crimes while also treating victims and helping them to heal," Erickson said. "This task force will bring together our University's greatest strengths and help us to develop new programs that will make a lasting impact in addressing issues of child maltreatment."

Penn State previously announced the formation of the Penn State Hershey Center for Child Protection and a partnership to prevent and treat sexual abuse with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

The task force is co-chaired by Susan McHale, professor of human development and director of the Children, Youth and Families Consortium and Social Science Research Institute; and A. Craig Hillemeier, vice dean for clinical affairs and chair of the department of pediatrics and medical director at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital.

The formation of this task force is the beginning of a process that will provide faculty from across the University the opportunity to work together and receive the support they need to address issues of child maltreatment.

"Our faculty already is recognized nationally and internationally for its work on behalf of children and their families," McHale said. "Many faculty members have devoted their careers to promoting the health and well-being of children throughout Pennsylvania, across the nation and around the world. A University-wide, interdisciplinary initiative engenders a renewed awareness of the complex problem of child maltreatment and gives us the opportunity to respond in a meaningful way."

The scope of child maltreatment is difficult to gauge. Although it is estimated that about one-third of victims never disclose their abuse, some data suggest that 25 percent of girls and 17 percent of boys will be sexually abused and that there are more than 42 million adult survivors of sexual abuse in the United States alone. Rates of child neglect and maltreatment are even higher, with social, political and economic conditions around the world making children ever more vulnerable.

Faculty from across the University have been convened to develop a proposal for how Penn State can make significant contributions to knowledge, practice, education and outreach on child maltreatment and protection. Members include faculty from the colleges of Agricultural Sciences, Communications, Education, Engineering, Health and Human Development, Information Sciences and Technology, the Liberal Arts, Medicine and Science; Penn State Law; School of Nursing; University Libraries; and Penn State Outreach.

The task force also will develop a plan for promoting and supporting new research, clinical practice and outreach for the prevention and treatment of child maltreatment, and its recommendations will be presented to Erickson.

As part of its work, the task force will review and integrate new activities and initiatives across Penn State, including the launch of the Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children. Additionally, the task force, through the Children, Youth and Families Consortium (CYFC) Seed Grant Program, has announced a call for proposals by Penn State research teams to conduct new, interdisciplinary research on child maltreatment. CYFC's Faculty Fellows program has issued a call for proposals by faculty who wish to redirect their research programs to encompass child abuse and neglect issues.

An inventory of existing teaching, research, clinical and outreach resources is under way to identify existing areas of strength -- such as Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital and the CYFC -- and develop new ones.

"A University-wide initiative is an opportunity to draw on expertise and resources such as the Colleges of IST and Science that have not traditionally emphasized child health and well-being," Hillemeier said. "We will work to identify new areas of expertise that may shine new light on these issues through a novel, interdisciplinary endeavor."

For an overview of identified courses, see .

Members of the task force will meet with internationally recognized leaders in related fields to help identify areas where Penn State can make its greatest contributions and identify experts who may help lead the initiative.

Seeking to identify possible components of a Penn State initiative, the task force will assess the structures and accomplishments of existing institutes and centers around the country that focus on child maltreatment and sexual abuse.

"We are seeking a transformative, interdisciplinary approach to child health and wellness," McHale said. "This is a response that is worthy of our tradition of academic excellence at Penn State."



Benedict's ‘theology of saints' offers a way to spiritual healing for abuse victims

by Dawn Eden

An Irish woman made headlines last week when, as the first clergy-abuse victim ever to address a Vatican conference, she expressed hope that the Church might “become a leader in child protection.”

Speaking to a reporter prior to addressing the “Towards Healing and Renewal” symposium at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University, Marie Collins said, “If the Catholic Church can become a leader in child protection, in the world, then it would be a start towards this terrible evil being controlled.”

With those words, Collins revealed what is truly at stake in responding to the abuse crisis. The sins committed against children in the Church represent the intrusion of a wider culture in which the dignity of the human person is routinely violated. Healing the Church is the necessary precursor to healing the culture. Developing an authentically Catholic pastoral approach to healing from abuse is the missing piece of the Church's efforts to spread the gospel of life.

In the United States alone, an estimated one in four women and one in six men were sexually abused as children. The overwhelming majority of such abuse is perpetrated in private residences—the child's own home, or the home of a family friend or neighbor.

Although Collins urges bishops to continue working towards “acknowledgment and accountability,” she also recommends the Church do something more for victims of childhood sexual abuse—something she believes is currently not being done at all.

“There is no spiritual help out there specifically, as far as I know, aimed at survivors who want to return to the Church, and I think maybe there should be,” Collins says.

By “survivors who want to return,” Collins is speaking of clergy-abuse victims who have become alienated from the Church. The need for spiritual help, however, is common to all Catholic adults who seek healing from the wounds of childhood sexual abuse. Nothing so makes a person doubt divine providence as a profoundly damaging experience of evil at a young age.

Dioceses in the United States have historically recognized their mission to help needy Catholics find health care, including mental health care, referring them to Catholic Charities and other organizations. Helping abuse victims get psychological aid has become a particular priority since the U.S. bishops in 2005 approved the “Charter for the Protection of Young People.” Conspicuously lacking, however, is an organized spiritual outreach—one that does not merely refer victims to therapists, but helps them, by means of the liturgical life, to discover God's abiding love for them.

What would such spiritual help look like? The observations made at another Vatican conference, held two weeks before “Towards Healing and Renewal,” offer a clue. At the Pontifical Theological Academy's forum on Christology in light of the Second Vatican Council, Monsignor Nicola Ciola of the Pontifical Lateran University spoke of the need to bring the faithful a fuller account of Christian hope. One way to facilitate such hope, he added, would be to develop the divine science known as the “theology of saints.”

Ciola is not the only person at the Vatican to note that hope may be fostered through studying the lives of those who have attained the substance of things hoped for. Pope Benedict XVI has long been taken with the theology of saints, and has highlighted their witness as a means of confronting the “ crisis of hope.”

As early as 1964, Benedict (as Cardinal Ratzinger) wrote that such elements of the Canon of the Mass as the “remembrance of the sublime multitude of the saints” were not “not mere ornaments.” Rather, as he wrote in the first volume of the Consilium series, they were “the intrinsically necessary expression” of the Eucharistic action uniting Christ's Mystical Body in the pews through His True Body on the altar. Just as recognizing Christ in the Eucharist helps us to recognize Him in our brethren, so too does recognizing Him in his holy ones help us to recognize Him in the Eucharist and in all the communion of saints.

In his writings and talks as pope, Benedict has built upon this same liturgical understanding of the theology of saints. He devoted a two-year series of Wednesday catechesis on the saints, so that he might show how “our companionship with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from their fountain and head issue every grace and the life of the People of God itself” ( Lumen Gentium 50, quoted by Benedict in his final saints catechesis). Most importantly for victims of childhood sexual abuse, and all who have been wounded by the sins of others, he has gone to great effort to show how the theology of saints leads into the healing truths of the theology of suffering.

Aristotle wrote in his Nicomachean Ethics that the question of whether an individual man possesses happiness cannot be determined by the individual's state at a given moment, but only by the outcome of his complete life—from birth to death. When we study the lives of the saints, each saint's life is visible to us in all its perfection, as a complete story. Their sufferings take on profound meaning because we know how their stories end—in the union of each saint with Christus passus , the Christ who suffered. Through their lives, we discover how our own lives are likewise “linked with the paschal mystery and patterned on the dying Christ” ( Gaudium et Spes 22).

Pope Benedict, speaking of how the Church should address the suffering caused by clergy abuse, emphasizes the need to promote “hope born of God's love and fidelity”; such hope brings us “the vision of a world reconciled and renewed in Christ Jesus, our Savior.” To make that vision present, he often draws from the saints' experiences, most powerfully in his encyclical Spe Salvi, “Saved in Hope,” where he writes, “The saints were able to make the great journey of human existence in the way that Christ had done before them, because they were brimming with great hope.”

Benedict in Spe Salvi focuses upon St. Josephine Bakhita (1869-1947) as a saint of our time who can “help us understand what it means to have a real encounter with this God for the first time.” His selection of Bakhita as a model is significant. The story of the Sudanese-born woman, who was kidnapped as a child, sold into slavery, and forced to undergo brutal “tattoos” that left her with 144 scars, resonates deeply with victims of childhood sexual abuse.

But the greatest sufferings of abuse victims are not physical, nor even psychological. They are spiritual, and it is Bakhita's spiritual journey that the Holy Father brings to the fore.

The trauma of Bakhita's kidnapping was so great that, upon being ordered by her captors to call herself by the slave name “Bakhita,” she forgot her own name, the one her parents gave her. Her experience of loss of identity, and with it the loss of an understanding of her human dignity, represents beyond all else the spiritual crisis of the abused child. The process of healing for all of us begins, as it did for Bakhita, with finding our identity in Christ.

Benedict describes the interior experience of Bakhita when, after being purchased by an Italian master who brought her to Venice, she first began to learn about the love of God:

“Here, after the terrifying ‘masters' who had owned her up to that point, Bakhita came to know a totally different kind of ‘master'—in Venetian dialect, which she was now learning, she used the name ‘paron' for the living God, the God of Jesus Christ. Up to that time she had known only masters who despised and maltreated her, or at best considered her a useful slave. Now, however, she heard that there is a ‘paron' above all masters, the Lord of all lords, and that this Lord is good, goodness in person. She came to know that this Lord even knew her, that he had created her—that he actually loved her. She too was loved, and by none other than the supreme ‘Paron,' before whom all other masters are themselves no more than lowly servants. She was known and loved and she was awaited.” ( Spe Salvi 39)

Although Bakhita ultimately gained her freedom and became a Canossian Sister, the Holy Father stresses that her true liberty began with her hope in Christ: “Through the knowledge of this hope she was ‘redeemed,' no longer a slave, but a free child of God.”

There is a slavery of external chains, and there is a slavery of the heart. Many victims of childhood sexual abuse, long after the threat is gone, remain shackled by the weight of resentment. Benedict, speaking in his current series of Wednesday catechesis on prayer, observes that man needs to be saved from the sorrow and bitterness that cause him to forsake God. For this liberation to take effect, “transformation from within is necessary, some foothold of goodness, a beginning from which to start out in order to change evil into good, hatred into love, revenge into forgiveness.”

The theology of saints helps those who have suffered childhood sexual abuse find that “foothold of goodness” through the witness of those who, after experiencing the deepest sorrows, were yet able to turn their eyes toward heaven and be saved.

Dawn Eden is the author of "The Thrill of the Chaste" and the upcoming "My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints" due in April from Ave Maria Press.


Some Mo. senators concerned about sex-abuse bill


Some Missouri senators raised concerns Monday that colleagues may be going too far in their response to the sex abuse scandal at Penn State University by proposing criminal penalties for any adult who fails to report child sexual abuse.

The Missouri legislation, which is similar to bills being considered in at least a dozen states, would require anyone age 18 or older who witnesses child sex abuse to report it to a law enforcement agency or the state Family Services Division, which investigates allegations of child abuse and neglect. Those who don't could face misdemeanor charges punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-St. Louis County, said his bill was prompted by the case against retired assistant Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, who was charged in November with child sex abuse. Two school officials were charged with failing to properly report abuse allegations. But Schmitt cited reports about another university employee who told his boss about witnessing sexual abuse and did not tell police - and was not charged with failing to report abuse.

Schmitt's bill would expand a Missouri law that already requires about two dozen categories of individuals - including doctors, teachers and ministers - to report suspected child abuse or neglect to the state Family Services Division. The proposed reporting mandate for all adults would apply only to observed cases of child sexual abuse, not instances of neglect and not to secondhand reports or suspicion of sexual abuse.

"The goal of this is to make sure these sexual offenders are brought to prosecution," Schmitt said. "This bill closes the gap between what we know is the right thing to do and what the law actually says."

Yet several senators said the legislation could have unintended consequences for families.

Sen. Luann Ridgeway, R-Smithville, questioned the wisdom of making a criminal out of an 18-year-old high school senior who witnesses a stepfather abuse a sibling but doesn't go to police out of fear for his or her own personal safety.

"Obviously, no one is going to stand up for the child abuser," Ridgeway said. "But what I want to know is how can this abuse statute be abused?"

Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, cited another scenario in which a mother who reports child sex abuse by a boyfriend - because the law requires her to do so - could end up having her child removed and placed in state custody while authorities try to figure out the situation.

As she studied the bill, "I kept finding more and more of those situations that made me uncomfortable," Justus said.

Senators set the bill aside without taking a vote after debating it Monday. Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, said it was unclear when he would bring the bill back up for debate.

"I think senators want to think it through," Dempsey said.


Berkeley, CA

Kids who veer from gender norms at higher risk for abuse

by Madison Park, CNN

Berkeley, California (CNN) -- When a boy struts in a tutu or a girl dons boxer shorts, it makes grown-ups nervous. It's one of the first lessons kids who are gender nonconforming learn.

Mich is biologically female, but didn't identify as a girl. As a child, Mich insisted on having boy-cut short hair, shunned all things pink and refused to play with dolls or wear dresses.

At age 3, "I told my mom I wanted to be a boy," said Mich, who requested to be identified by first name only. "And, throughout the years, I learned that saying that was not right ... and so, you hide this part of yourself. But you still know something's up. The problem with kids is that they don't have the language to say it, but they know."

The pressure to be more girly came from Mich's parents and other adults, rather than school bullies, said Mich, who now is 25 and lives in the Bay Area.

"The messages from adults, especially my parents, were this was not how it was supposed to be," Mich said. "I don't think it was subtle. I would cut my hair really short and my mom would say, 'Why do you look like a boy? You can't be a boy.' An adult would say, 'Why aren't you in a dress?' They're pushing this message on you."

When teenagers and children reject conforming to their biological gender roles, they are often teased, misunderstood or scorned by both peers and adults.

A study published in Pediatrics this month showed that children who do not conform to gender roles are more likely to be abused, increasing the likelihood they will have post-traumatic stress disorder by the time they're in their 20s.

Gender nonconformity means that an individual tends to associate with roles, behaviors and activities of the opposite gender, rather than those of his or her biological sex. This could be a boy who grows his hair long or paints his nails, or a girl who only wears male clothing. These issues are often confused with transgender identity, but they are not the same thing.

Gender nonconforming behavior occurs in one out of 10 children, according to the study. A vast majority of these kids do not need medical interventions, because the behavior tends to fade as they grow older.

In the study published Monday, nearly 9,000 respondents were asked to recall their childhood experiences before age 11, including favorite toys, games, roles they took while playing, media characters they imitated or admired, and feelings of femininity and masculinity. When they reached adulthood, the participants were surveyed again -- this time about whether they experienced physical, sexual, or emotional abuse and were screened for PTSD.

What fuels transgender backlash?

The results showed "very clear patterns," said S. Bryn Austin, one of the study's authors. "The young people who as children were most nonconforming were much more likely to report mistreatment or abuse, within the family, by people outside the family. They were targeted for abuse."

There should be extra precautions taken to protect them, she said.

"We are concerned about the health and risk of abuse and harassment targeting children who behave in a way, or express their gender in a way that's not typical," said Austin, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard School of Public Health. "We know there's a lot of bias about how girls and boys are supposed to behave."

Gender nonconformity tends to diminish as kids get older. And in many cases, kids with these tendencies grow up to be gay or lesbian, experts say.

"A lot of children seem to be experimenting with cross-gender behavior, but very few are following through to request gender change as they mature," wrote Dr. Walter Meyer III, a pediatric psychiatrist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, in a separate commentary published in Pediatrics.

Mich, who wanted to be a boy during childhood, does not want to become a man, having reached adulthood. Mich now identifies as gender neutral -- meaning neither female nor male.

When children cross-dress, they toe the gender divide and challenge conventions, making their parents and adults very anxious. It's an issue that Diane Ehrensaft, director of mental health and founding member of the Child and Adolescent Gender Center and a clinical psychologist in the Bay Area, has dealt with for years.

Ehrensaft raised a gender nonconforming son and wrote a book, "Gender Born, Gender Made," in which the cover shows a young boy with curly hair in a tutu. Her son, now an adult, identifies as gay.

"I started seeing more and more children and families who just came to me around their child's gender nonconforming behaviors," Ehrensaft said in an interview with at a health conference last year. "In the last five years, there has been an explosion in the number of children who are saying you guys have got it wrong. I'm not the gender you think I am."

There are "princess boys" and girls who only wear boy clothes, and many others who express their gender identity in unconventional ways.

Whether the behavior is a result of nature or nurture remains contested. Some in the field believe children can be brought out of their nonconforming behavior by immersing them in conventional gender roles.

Gender nonconformity by itself does not indicate a mental health disorder, so doctors often take a wait-and-see approach when the behaviors appear in young or school-aged children.

In rare cases, gender nonconformity in children can lead to gender identity disorder in adolescence, also known as gender dysphoria, a diagnosis that involves a disconnect between a patient's sex, which describes anatomy, and their gender, which involves identity.

People with this condition feel distressed because their bodies don't match their gender identity in their minds. The adolescent form of the disorder is typically diagnosed in early puberty, said Dr. Scott Leibowitz, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Gender Management Services at the Children's Hospital Boston, the first gender identity clinic in North America.

"The dilemma is the inability for anybody to accurately predict whether reported gender dysphoria in childhood persists in adolescence or not. In a majority of cases it does not," he said.

In another study published in Pediatrics, authors found that 44% of teenagers with gender identity disorder had significant psychiatric history including self-mutilation and suicide attempts.

In either case, signs of gender nonconformity in kids can cause confusion and isolation for families. Often parents are blamed for the kids' behavior.

Two years after giving birth, Nicole Seguin realized that her daughter never behaved like a typical girl. Her daughter, Anneke, at age 2, seemed miserable in a dress and would rip or mess up the feminine clothes.

"The first time I kind of remember taking off my dress and just chilling with the diaper," said Anneke, now 15. "I did not wear any clothes unless they were my Spiderman jammies. No dresses, nothing pink, nothing like that."

Growing up, Anneke always had masculine interests -- soccer and hockey over tea parties and Barbies. One of the first words Anneke as a toddler uttered was "Hup Holland," a phrase used by Dutch soccer fans. When Seguin bought her daughter a dollhouse, Anneke shot toy cars off it. Anneke always wanted to play sports.

For years, Anneke identified as "gender fluid" -- meaning not completely male or female.

In December, Anneke became Cory, changing names and now preferring the male pronoun. Although identifying more as a male, Cory still considers himself "gender fluid." He likes chick flicks, watches "Glee" but also loves playing hockey. He plays on a nearly all-male hockey squad as goalie.

Cory's case highlights the complexity involved in gender identity. Life outside the gender norms doesn't come easy.

"I went through various stages of depression," he said. "The only reason why I'm here right now is because of all the support my family gave me."



Local author making it easier for parents to talk about sexual abuse

by Stacie Snow

A Chestermere author is on a mission to break the silence about sexual assault.

With her first children's book, Should I Tell My Secret?, Collette Sinnott aims to open a dialogue between parents and young victims of sexual abuse by encouraging conversations to take place between children and their parents or guardians.

“We can battle this silent epidemic by starting to talk about it,” said Sinnott.

“I want to get rid of the elephant in the room – the one that everyone pretends not to see when it is about child sexual abuse. My hope is that this book will have an impact on reducing the incidents and duration of child abuse.”

The 32-page colourfully illustrated book was written to educate and empower children to speak up about the secrets they are coerced into keeping when abusers or predators show up in the disguise of relatives, babysitters, neighbours or others.

“Predators rely on the fact that it is secretive and uncomfortable to talk about sexual abuse but an informed child is a powerful child,” she said.

“An informed child is not a target. It's silence that really cripples a child. The secret is what gives the abuser power and I want to give the power back to the children.”

Sinnott is an abuse survivor and she says she knows what it is like to live in fear. She decided to write the book after giving birth to her daughter, now two.

“When I had her, it reminded me of my past and I realized that I hadn't talked to my kids about it and that horrified me,” she said.

“Reading the book is an easy way to make it a normal part of life. You don't have to sit your kids down and scare them. The book makes them feel safe and makes them want to talk because it teaches them keeping secrets is wrong.”

The book contains a list of questions parents can ask, tools to get children to list the adults they feel safe talking to and even an eye-spy game in which children have to find all the small characters on each page that are telling each other secrets.

“This helps kids want to read it again and again and that is great because they will internalize the message,” she said.

According to Little Warriors, a national charitable organization focused on the education and prevention of child sexual abuse, one in three girls and one in six boys is affected by sexual abuse in Canada.

“Those are only the cases that are reported,” said Sinnott.

“People would be horrified to know what actually goes on out there. My goal is to get one of these books in every elementary schools in Canada and the United States.”

Sinnott has lived in Chestermere for three years with her husband and three children ages four, three and two.

To purchase copies or sponsor the printing of this book to be donated to libraries and elementary schools, contact Sinnott at or visit



Combating child abuse, neglect By Chad Nation

COUNCIL BLUFFS — Every 45 minutes, a child in Iowa faces harm because of child abuse or neglect.

New research found that more than 12,000 Iowa children were victims of abuse or neglect in 2010, more than 230 per week, and that eight Iowa children died that year from abuse or neglect.

Law enforcement officials are always looking for new tools to fight those trends.

Council Bluffs Police Chief Ralph O'Donnell joined with other law enforcement leaders to meet with legislators at the Iowa Capitol last week and encouraged them to strengthen family support resources, including voluntary home visitation, to combat child abuse and neglect.

O'Donnell said high-quality voluntary home visiting programs can reduce child abuse and neglect by as much as 50 percent, while also saving taxpayer dollars over the long run.

While there is no pending legislation, O'Donnell said he appreciated that three area representatives — Mark Brandenburg, Greg Forristall and Mary Ann Hanusa — met with him so he could encourage the state to continue to invest in home-visit programs to help "stop the cycle" of child abuse and violence.

"I support evidence-based programs," O'Donnell said. "I've been in police work for 35 years, and I see patrolmen arresting people with the same names; it's just the next generation.

"It's a cycle that we have to stop."

O'Donnell was representing more than 150 Iowa police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and crime survivors who belong to the anti-crime organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids.

Law enforcement leaders said voluntary home visits for at-risk families could prevent many cases of abuse and neglect. These programs pair nurses or trained paraprofessionals with pregnant women and new parents to teach them how to meet their child's health and developmental needs.

"Besides causing terrible harm to children, child abuse and neglect also have a tremendous impact on Iowa taxpayers," O'Donnell said.

He said an analysis from the Washington State Institute for Public Policy found that a nurse-family partnership program in New York produced a net savings for taxpayers of almost $21,000 per each family served.

Iowa currently offers an array of home visiting programs and initiatives focused on improving prenatal and infant health and preventing child abuse and neglect, among other outcomes. The programs served about 15,000 at-risk families in Iowa in fiscal year 2009.


Santa Barbara, CA

Scouts to turn over 'sexual abuse' files

Santa Barbara - A judge overseeing a lawsuit brought by the family of a California boy molested by his troop leader in 2007 has ordered the Boy Scouts of America to hand over confidential files detailing allegations of sexual abuse by Scout leaders around the nation.

The Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge said last month that the Irving, Texas-based organisation must turn over the last 20 years' worth of records by February 24, with victims' names removed, the Los Angeles Time's reported Sunday. The files will not be made public.

Known as "ineligible volunteer files", the documents have been maintained since the 1920s and are intended to keep suspected molesters and others accused of misconduct out of Scouting.

Scouts officials have resisted releasing them and won't discuss their contents, citing the privacy rights of victims and the fact that many files are based on unproven allegations.

The officials deny that the files have been used to conceal sexual abuse.

"These files exist solely to keep out individuals whose actions are inconsistent with the standards of Scouting, and Scouts are safer because of them," Deron Smith, public relations director of Boy Scouts of America, told the Times.


The Santa Barbara case is significant because it seeks to unlock files that have never been turned over by the Scouts, including all since 2005. It also alleges wrongdoing that took place relatively recently, even as the Scouts have stepped up protective efforts.

The trial is scheduled for April, nearly five years after the boy, then 13-years-old, was molested by volunteer troop leader Al Stein at a Boy Scouts Christmas tree sale in Goleta. Stein pleaded no contest to felony child endangerment in 2009.

He was sentenced to two years in prison but was paroled early and is living in a Salinas motel with other sex offenders, his attorney Steven Balash told the newspaper.

The victim's name has not been released. His mother claims that David Tate, then the Los Padres Council Scout executive, asked her not to call police after she reported her son's claim of abuse.

"He said that wasn't necessary, because the Scouts do their own internal investigation," said the woman, whose name the Times withheld to protect her son's identity. "I thought that was really weird... I thought it was really important to call the sheriff right away."

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, contends the Scouts knew or should have known that Stein had put the boy at risk and cites Tate's reluctance to call police as evidence of an effort to conceal widespread sexual abuse.

Ticking time bombs

Tate, now a top Scouts official in New York, declined to comment.

The boy's lawyers contend the files will expose the Scouts' "culture of hidden sexual abuse" and its failure to warn boys, their parents and others about paedophiles in the ranks of one of the nation's oldest youth organisations.

"They have created these ticking time bombs who are walking through society, and nobody knows their identities except the Scouts," said Timothy Hale, one of the lawyers for the Santa Barbara County boy.

Some of the estimated 5 000 files have surfaced in recent years as a result of lawsuits by former Scouts accusing the organisation of failing to exclude known paedophiles, detect abuses and report offenders to police, and allowing predators to remain at large.



Police find remains of Ohio girl missing since 1999 in accused rapist's home

LIMA, Ohio – Police say the skeleton of a 14-year-old Ohio runaway missing since 1999 has been found after the home where she was last seen was demolished.

The Lima News reports that Lima police on Saturday said the remains of Nicholle Coppler were found in a crawl space as the home's foundation was being dug out. Allen County Coroner Gary Beasley said they were identified through dental records.

The home was owned by Glen Fryer, who had been suspected in Coppler's death. The newspaper reports he was 55 when he killed himself in 2002 while awaiting sentencing for raping a girl.

The home was demolished after the state took possession due to unpaid taxes. Coppler's remains were the only ones found.

"I knew in my heart it was Nicholle," said the girl's mother, Krista Coppler, who now lives Florida. "I knew in my heart she never left that house."

Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin said the discovery means the homicide investigation is reopened. The newspaper reports that police have said Fryer had a link to human trafficking.

"Our goal is still the same: Try to get to the truth," Martin said. "Where exactly that will lead us I cannot say."

Lt. Jim Baker said detectives believe Fryer was involved in the death but that there also were other people. Police said other people knew the girl was in the house, and Lima police Maj. Richard Shade said at least two other people lived in the home with Fryer.

Krista Coppler said she doesn't feel the investigation was handled properly in 1999 but that police have since changed policy on runaways.

"If, in Nicholle's name, she can save some other girls, some good can come out of this," she said.


Petition to end Statute of Limitations in PA

Abolish Statute of Limitations for Sexually Abused
To be delivered to: PA Governor Tom Corbett.

"Get House bills 878/832 for sexually abused victims out of the House judiciary committee and to the House floor for a VOTE so legislators can make this a new law and more predators can be identified thus protecting more kids!."
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